AMES, Iowa – Roger Aaron Brandenburg, 46, of Farley, entered a plea of guilty Oct. 18, 2012, in Dubuque County court to one count of operating as a motor vehicle recycler without obtaining a license from the Iowa Department of Transportation and one count of fraudulent practice in the fifth degree for under-reporting the purchase price of a motor vehicle at the time of titling. The charges were a result of an investigation conducted by the Iowa DOT’s Motor Vehicle Enforcement – Investigative Unit.
This case serves as reminder to all Iowans about the importance of properly reporting the purchase price of used vehicles. Any purchase price that is considerably lower than fair market value raises a red flag in the Iowa DOT’s vehicle registration and titling system, and may result in an investigation.
Iowa takes violations of the vehicle registration laws very seriously. The “fee for registration” (formerly the use tax) collected on vehicle purchases is an important revenue source for building and maintaining Iowa’s highway system; violations of the law mean all highway users are shortchanged.
Illegal recycling and salvaging is another serious concern for Iowa. Not only does it negatively affect state revenue, it adversely impacts legitimate recycling businesses and is often associated with environmental problems due to improper disposal of toxic waste.
In this particular case, investigators found that Brandenburg sold 179 motor vehicles for scrap to a recycling facility in 2011. Iowa law states that a person shall not engage in the business of dismantling, scrapping, recycling or salvaging more than six vehicles subject to registration in a 12-month period without obtaining a recycler’s license. For his guilty plea, Brandenburg received two years’ probation, a suspended 180-day jail sentence and fine of $2,800 (including the surcharge and court costs).
The investigation also uncovered that Brandenburg underreported the purchase price on the application for title to a 2003 Chevy Silverado. Brandenburg stated a purchase price of $2,000, when he actually paid $4,800. By underreporting the purchase price, Brandenburg evaded $140 in fees for registration. Iowa law states that a person who willfully makes a false statement in regards to a purchase price is guilty of a fraudulent practice. By entering a guilty plea to this charge, Brandenburg was ordered to pay $140 in restitution, as well as pay an additional fine, surcharge and court costs totaling $455.