Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ex-employees charged with defrauding Clearwater car dealership of $400,000

Three people were arrested Thursday on charges of defrauding their former employer, a Clearwater car dealership, out of about $400,000 in 2012.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, the trio wrote checks on Lokey Automotive accounts for marketing and mailing services from an off-site marketing firm two of the three created just for the purpose of receiving the money. None of the services paid for were rendered.

After Lokey notified authorities, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit conducted a two-month investigation, which led to Wednesday's arrests.

Lokey declined to comment.

Former Lokey general manager James Surrett, 45, of Orlando turned himself in on Thursday. Former Lokey sales manager Larry Dubose, 39, of Tarpon Springs was arrested Thursday in Pasco County. Former controller Patricia Lipka, 51, of Fort Myers was arrested Thursday in Lee County.

All three worked at Lokey in 2012, but it was unclear when they began and ended their employment there.

They are each being held on $500,000 bond.

Dubose and Lipka were arrested at car dealerships — Dubose at Sun Toyota in Holiday where he now works, and Lipka at Sutherlin Nissan in Fort Myers. It is unclear if Lipka works at Sutherlin.

Arrest records show Napleton Automotive Group, a multi-state dealership conglomerate based near Chicago, employs Surrett.

Napleton did not return calls; Sun and Sutherlin both declined to comment.

All are charged with scheme to defraud. If convicted, they could face up to 30 years in prison for committing a class-one felony, though the sentencing guidelines normally call for a lesser sentence.

Staff writer Craig Pittman contributed to this report. Josh Solomon can be reached at (727) 445-4155 or

Ex-employees charged with defrauding Clearwater car dealership of $400,000 03/07/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2014 9:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Toledo feels like a second season opener for Miami Hurricanes


    LAKE BUENA VISTA - The schedule says Week 4, but it sure doesn't feel that way for the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes.

    The Miami Hurricanes suit up for practice Tuesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex
  2. Top 5 at noon: Trump threatens 'total destruction' of North Korea; Irma's death toll in Florida rises to 42, but will grow; and more


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, Tuesday in New York City. [Getty Images]
  3. Key performances and a sizzling script elevate Heather Theatre's 'Disgraced'


    TAMPA — When you step into the world of Disgraced, Ayad Akhtar's taut drama centered on two couples at a Manhattan dinner party, you never feel secure about where you sit. No one really can.

    The cast of Disgraced, Ayah Akhtar's Pulitzer-winning play at the Heather Theatre, includes (from left) Peter Alexander Kostis, Lynn Single, Shrey Neil, and Krystal Nicole Watts. Photo courtesy of the Heather.
  4. 10 National Monuments the Interior Department Wants to Shrink or Modify


    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed that President Donald Trump make changes to 10 national monuments, including Bears Ears in southern Utah, according to a memo addressed to the White House.

  5. At UN, Trump threatens 'total destruction' of North Korea (w/video)


    UNITED NATIONS — President Donald Trump, in a combative debut speech to the U.N. General Assembly, threatened the "total destruction'" of North Korea if it does not abandon its drive toward nuclear weapons.

    United States President Donald Trump prepares to speak during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Associated Press]