KAUKAUNA — A former used car dealer who had businesses in Kaukauna and Suamico was sentenced to federal prison Thursday after being convicted of defrauding customers at the two car lots.

John M. Solberg, 40, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for the scheme that involved his two dealerships.

According to court records, Solberg opened a dealership in Kaukauna called Standard Pre-Owned after earlier opening his first dealership in 2012 in Suamico.

While operating his dealerships, Solberg developed a scheme to defraud people who listed their vehicles for sale on Craigslist, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Solberg would contact the sellers and offer to sell their vehicles on consignment from his car lots.

Court records indicate that Solberg then would sell the consignment cars without paying the owners of the vehicle and would provide fraudulent vehicle titles to the purchasers.

At sentencing, United States District Judge William C. Griesbach noted the serious nature of Solberg’s scheme based on the emotional and financial toll he imposed on his victims.

He also questioned whether Solberg truly accepted responsibility for his criminal acts.

Though Solberg requested a sentence of probation, the judge determined that a 30-month term in federal prison was required to address the magnitude of the crime and to send a message to Solberg and others that taking advantage of people will result in serious consequences.

After serving his prison sentence, Solberg will spend three years on supervised release.  

The Court also ordered Solberg to pay approximately $290,000 in restitution to his victims.   

This case was investigated by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the Kaukauna Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicles. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel R. Humble and Julie F. Stewart.

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.