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Dade City car dealer accused of pawning stolen Oldsmobile

DADE CITY — People come to the Dade City Automax on U.S. 301 to buy and sell used cars.

And on at least one occasion, authorities say, someone came to the dealership to pawn a stolen car.

Detectives say dealership owner Roberto Virgen Sr. paid the man $6,000 in exchange for the stolen car, which Virgen believed to be worth $30,000. Virgen later told detectives he wasn't concerned where the car came from.

"The defendant admitted he didn't care and was looking for a good deal," the Pasco County Sheriff's Office report states.

Virgen, 40, the owner of Dade City Automax at 20133 U.S. 301, is accused of buying a classic 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass that had been stolen in Pinellas County.

The title of the car wasn't in the name of the person pawning it, the report states, but Virgen "never asked the seller how or where he acquired the vehicle and never asked if it was stolen."

After an undercover operation, Virgen was arrested Tuesday. He is charged with dealing in stolen property and operating a pawn business without a license.

"As a dealer, he should have been very suspicious of that type of transaction," said Kevin Doll, spokesman for the Pasco Sheriff's Office.

Virgen gave the pawner $6,000 for the car, the report says. To get the car back, the seller "was to repay the defendant $6,500 within 30 days and $500 more each month the pawner failed to retrieve the vehicle."

"We don't know that the person who stole the car had any intention of coming back to get it," Doll said.

The Sheriff's Office is investigating to see if Virgen was involved with pawning other stolen cars. Virgen told an undercover agent he pawned other vehicles in the past, Doll said.

The dealership was open for business Wednesday.

Virgen, who listed his address as 17440 U.S. 301 in Dade City, did not return a phone call for comment. He was released from the Pasco County jail Wednesday on $15,000 bail.

This is his first arrest in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com or (727) 969-6229.

Dade City car dealer accused of pawning stolen Oldsmobile 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 10:20pm]

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