The U.S. Attorney’s Office is objecting to the request of former Erie auto executive Adam J. Weaver to end his period of supervised release early so he can help expand his family’s auto dealership.
Weaver’s plans are too vague, and he has not explained why another person at the dealership, including his sister, who now owns it, could not pursue the same expansion project, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Trabold said in a new filing in what has turned into a drawn-out dispute in Weaver’s fraud case.
Weaver, 44, started serving three years of supervised release, similar to probation, in September 2018.
He went on supervised release after he finished serving his four-month federal prison term for his guilty plea to fraud related to car sales in 2015 and 2016 at Rick Weaver Buick GMC, at West 12th and Liberty streets in Erie. Weaver was president and owner of the dealership at the time.
His sentence was below the recommended federal sentencing guideline range of a year and three months to a year and nine months.
Weaver’s “general claims” about the expansion of the family business “are insufficient to warrant an early termination of his supervised release,” Trabold said in the new filing, docketed in U.S. District Court in Erie on Tuesday.
“There appears to be no reason why he cannot complete the remainder of his supervised release term,” Trabold said in the filing. “Weaver has already received a significant break from the Court. He has not established his entitlement to another one.
“Granting Weaver’s request for early termination of his supervised release will also send the wrong message to the community that well-heeled, white-collar defendants are treated differently,” Trabold said. “That is a message that the Court should not send to a community paying close attention to the outcome here.”
Trabold was responding to the defense’s request for early termination of supervised release, made in a filing on Feb. 8. Weaver had wanted to make the reasons for the request secret, citing sensitive business information. Trabold objected to that unusual request, and Senior U.S. District Judge David S. Cercone denied Weaver’s petition to file the motion for early release under seal.
With the response of the U.S. Attorney’s Office on file, Cercone is in a position to rule soon on whether to end Weaver’s term of supervised release before it expires on Sept. 21.
Weaver, of Fairview, in October 2017 pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He then had to step down as president and divest his ownership stake in the Weaver dealership because GMC prohibits a felon from owning a dealership, a lawyer for the dealership has said.
Cercone sentenced Weaver in April 2018. He also fined Weaver $400,000, which was paid, and ordered Weaver and two other defendants in the case to share in paying restitution of $143,794 to five banks.
Weaver was indicted in September 2016. The government accused him and two co-defendants of fraudulently generating profits by inflating the price of vehicles through the use of straw buyers who paid for the vehicles with bank loans. The straw buyers defaulted on the loans, leaving lenders unable to recoup the cost of the loans.
Adam Weaver has continued to work at the Weaver dealership since he was released from prison, though he no longer has an ownership stake in the business and is prohibited from supervising other employees or participating in car sales. His duties include marketing and property maintenance, according to defense filings.
Weaver in the filings said he needs the supervised release to end early so he can pursue “opportunities to grow and expand the dealership,” including by extending an economic development loan he received from the city of Erie years ago. Weaver and his lawyers, Efrem Grail and Brian Bevan, of Pittsburgh, said he cannot secure financing while on supervised release.
In response, Trabold said Weaver had presented insufficient information to justify the early termination of supervised release.
“The claims advanced by Weaver in his motion are vague at best. He has not explained why his sister, who currently runs the Weaver dealership, cannot obtain the financing required to expand the business.” Trabold said in the filing.
He also said, “The Court has been provided no factual details necessary to make an informed assessment of Weaver’s claims.”