Ex-auto dealer charged with theft in court
NASHUA - A former classic auto dealer accused of bilking nearly $200,000 will be allowed to work at a Manchester insurance agency, including traveling out of state, while awaiting trial on state and federal charges. Stephen Lussier, of 2 Wildwood Drive in Bedford, will also be allowed to continue living with his family, according to bail agreements reached during his arraignment at Hillsborough County Superior Court on Wednesday morning. Lussier, the former owner of Merrimack-based Classic Cars of New England, a business in which he consigned cars on behalf of his clients, pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday. Lussier is accused of pocketing between $150,000 to $200,000 from the sale of six vehicles between July 2007 and this past June. Assistant County Attorney Catherine Devine asked Judge Diane Nicolosi to set bail at $10,000 cash or surety based on the amount of money Lussier allegedly stole from customers. Devine added that there were seven victims involved and that Lussier might be a flight risk to Florida, where his parents live. She also asked that Lussier report to a probation officer each week and not leave the state. Lussier's attorney, Bruce Kenna of Manchester, said his client is a lifelong resident of New Hampshire and has four children, including one with autism who needs special care. Kenna added that Lussier has no prior record and secured a job three months ago at a Manchester insurance company that requires him to travel out of state, including to Massachusetts and New York. Kenna asked that bail be set at $10,000 personal recognizance, and that Lussier be allowed to travel outside the state for work purposes. Kenna also asked that Lussier not have to check in with a probation officer because he appeared in court voluntarily. Nicolosi went with Kenna's request. Lussier was secretly indicted on six felony theft charges Sept. 16 in superior court, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. However, the warrant was dropped after police announced the indictments to news organizations, and Wednesday's arraignment date was then set. Lussier once owned the dealership at 714 Daniel Webster Highway, and was part owner and vice president of Karzman Credit Corp., which provided financing to customers. He is charged with keeping money from sales of a 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, a 1987 Buick Grand National, and four vintage Chevrolet Corvettes. Lussier is also facing a criminal bank fraud charge in U.S. District Court. Karzman made an arrangement with Sovereign Bank to finance car loans, which were supposed to be secured by the vehicles as collateral. Sovereign approved 23 auto loans totaling more than $430,000 to Karzman customers from January to June 2007, according to court documents. Lussier is accused of using the money for himself and other business debts. hadn't bought the cars, making false reports to the bank and his customers, prosecutors claim. Instead, he is accused of using the money for himself and other business debts. Lussier is scheduled to appear in federal court again in December, Kenna said. Devine said the next court action would likely take place early next year.