Man accused of bogus car sale

February 14, 2013

A Canonsburg man was arrested Wednesday by borough police after he allegedly took cash for a car he was selling on Craigslist but never delivered the vehicle to the new owner.

Salvatore L. Conte, 55, of 517 Moore Ave., was arraigned before District Judge David Mark on charges of theft and deceptive or fraudulent business practices.

Christine Newell was on the website looking for a car when she found the red 2001 Pontiac Grand Am that was advertised for sale at a reduced price of $1,500. She called the seller, later identified as Conte, and met him Jan. 8 to look at the car. As part of the agreement, Conte allegedly said repairs would be made to the car at a Cecil Township shop before delivery, and the car also was to be inspected. Newell said Conte told her the car would be ready by Jan. 16.

Prior to delivery of the car, Newell and Conte transferred the title to her name. She also reportedly paid him $1,300 for the car. Newell has the title.

On Jan. 16, Conte reportedly told Newell the car was not ready because the shop had to order parts. Newell said she made several other calls to Conte and never received a response. Then, she said, a woman called for Conte to tell her the car was inspected, but there was a problem with a window motor.

On Feb. 1, Conte reportedly told Newell the car was back at the garage and would be ready in a few days. Newell and a friend drove past Conte’s home and saw the car was in his driveway, not at the shop. Newell said she had a friend call Conte at the telephone number listed on Craigslist, and Conte allegedly told the other woman the car was still for sale.

Police Sgt. Al Coghill called the repair garage and learned that the car never had been at the garage, nor was it ever scheduled for repairs. Coghill said he believed Conte had no intention of delivering the car to Newell.

This is not the first time Conte has been charged regarding the sale of a vehicle. In 2007, he received a probationary sentence from former Judge Paul Pozonsky for the unauthorized sale of 21 vehicles over the Internet. He was placed in the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program for 12 months on charges of deceptive business practices, making false application for title registration and theft by deception.

Conte was released from the Washington County jail on the latest charges after posting $50,000 bond. He was returned to jail Thursday night on an adult probation bench warrant. A preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday before Mark.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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