A Crystal man who operated a fraudulent used-car business from offices across the metro area was sentenced Friday in Hennepin County District Court, receiving a harsher sentence than initially decided in a September plea agreement.
Judge Pam Alexander sentenced Zachary Moore, 25, to 10 years' probation and 100 days in the county workhouse. He also must pay $250,000 in restitution to 36 victims over the 10-year probation period.
After nearly throwing out Moore's plea agreement, Alexander made two changes to the original sentence: First, Moore must serve the 100 days in jail all at once, rather than in 10-day increments each year during the probation period. Second, he must request to be taken off probation at the end of the 10 years, even if he's completed all of the conditions.
If Moore violates the conditions of his probation, he'll face nearly six years in prison.
From offices in Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park, Lexington and Isanti County, Moore ran a business called Civics Reborn, which purported to sell used Honda Civics. Customers were required to pay the full price — typically from $3,000 to $6,000 — up front, and then were left to wait for a car that Moore and his mechanics said was being refurbished.
Multiple victims gave impact statements Friday, including a University of Minnesota graduate student, a mother of four and a Vietnam War veteran. They described never receiving the cars they'd paid for, or being given cars that weren't safe to drive.
Moore pleaded guilty in September to one felony count of theft by swindle over $35,000. Eight other counts were dropped.
"A lot of people came to Civics Reborn looking for an economical means of getting to work, and all they got was deceptions and lies," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. "We are pleased with the tougher sentence."