Third man charged in connection with large-scale auto theft case

A third person charged in connection with the disappearance of dozens of new vehicles from a Red Deer vehicle dealership almost four years ago has pleaded guilty.

A third person charged in connection with the disappearance of dozens of new vehicles from a Red Deer vehicle dealership almost four years ago has pleaded guilty.

Daniel Descheneau, 41, of Red Deer, pleaded guilty to taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent when he appeared in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench on Monday.

Justice Joanne Goss sentenced Descheneau to a six-month conditional discharge, probation and a $12,500 fine at the start of a scheduled trial.

Crown prosecutor Peter MacKenzie of Calgary withdrew several other theft and fraud charges against the accused.

Descheneau and three other people were charged after RCMP investigated a 2007 complaint that dozens of vehicles, mostly pickups, were missing from Southside Dodge Chrysler Jeep and RV Centre.

Some vehicle sales were not being reported to the dealership.

Several victims were duped in the scam, which saw about 50 vehicles illegally sold from the dealership in late 2007. Unsuspecting customers were sold new vehicles for less than half the original value.

Descheneau was ordered to repay one-half the cost the victim paid for a vehicle, which had an estimated valued of about $50,000.

The plea bargain was worked out between the Crown and defence lawyer Richard Fritze.

MacKenzie said the Crown may have experienced difficulties prosecuting Descheneau if the charges had gone to trial.

Descheneau is one of three people who have now pleaded guilty to taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.

The other accused — Sandra Chen, 31, formerly of Red Deer and Torrey Duane Werenka, 37, of Rimbey — both pleaded guilty earlier to taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent and each received conditional discharges of six months and probation. In addition, they must repay the victims $12,500 each.

Fritze said the victims were being compensated for “all the funds they are out.”

MacKenzie said the fourth accused will be back in court Sept. 12 to hopefully set a new date for a week-long trial.

Calvin Robert Mirbach, 34, of Red Deer faces more than 90 charges of theft and fraud.

Mirbach is alleged to have been the mastermind in the scam involving high-end priced vehicles.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com