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Grand jury indicts former auto dealer

David Edmonds of Troutdale faces 36 counts of theft
by: Contributed photo David Edmonds

It's been nearly three years since Gresham police began investigating a local car dealer accused of bilking customers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But on Friday, June 10, Byron David Edmonds of Troutdale finally posed for a mug shot after a Multnomah County Grand Jury indicted him on 36 charges of first-degree aggravated theft, first-degree theft and identity theft.

Edmonds, the former owner of AutoLink, was then released and ordered to appear in court on Aug. 1, when his trial begins.

He is one of five people named in the indictment.

Gaylene Kendall, 64, of Southeast Portland and Jo Danielle Cole, 59, of Troutdale also were booked early Tuesday, June 14. Each face 21 counts of first-degree aggravated theft and 11 counts of first-degree theft.

Two others remain at large. Toni Nicole Kovacevic, 29, of Gresham was indicted on four counts of first-degree aggravated theft and one count of first-degree theft. Keith Steiner, 29, of Banks was indicted on two counts of first-degree aggravated theft and three counts of first-degree theft.

The alleged crimes date back to June 2008 and ended on Halloween of that year when Gresham police launched an investigation, according to court documents.

Police said Edmonds swindled customers of his car dealership, then located on the corner of Northeast 223rd Avenue and Stark Street, by selling used cars on consignment without passing the proceeds on to the vehicle's rightful owner - be it a bank or an individual.

Customers complained to police about buying cars but never receiving the title.

In total, 21 transactions involving a vehicle worth $10,000 or more, took place in which the consigners were not paid. Another 14 cases involved transactions of vehicles worth $1,000 to $5,000.

The case took so long to indict because of the high number of victims and the large amount of paperwork involved, said Gresham police spokesman John Rasmussen.

For example, one transaction could have four victims if the person selling it was still making loan payments to a bank on the vehicle and the person who bought it also was making bank payments on the vehicle.

The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles revoked Edmonds' car dealership license in early 2008. Four days after Gresham police shut the business down it reopened with a new owner who was Edmonds' sister.

A new car dealership license also was issued to Iris Parker, an employee's mother. That license also was revoked in late 2008, said David House, DMV spokesman.