Victims in Luxury Car Scam Get Money Back

Thousands of dollars is being returned to several victims who lost money and exotic cars in transactions with a local dealer.

The San Diego District Attorney announced Wednesday that a plea agreement had been reached with former car broker John Mussari who court documents say scammed his victims out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bad car deals.

NBC 7 Investigates broke the story in 2011 which brought to light the allegations of fraud and later encouraged multiple victims to come forward.

If signed next month, Mussari’s plea bargain will result in jail time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution.

For car collector Dave Baker, who is said to be one of Mussari’s victims, this day has been a long time coming.

“I wasn't sure if I was going to see any of this money,” said Baker. “I almost kissed it all off.”

Baker said he paid Mussari $60,000 for a 2004 Lamborghini. Baker was buying the car with Mussari who agreed to pay another $6,000 to purchase the vehicle.

When Baker received the vehicle he realized it had electrical problems. Mussari then took possession of the car, promising to fix the issues.

However, Baker said he never saw the car again. He added that he has been waiting for his money for three years.

On Wednesday morning, Deputy District Attorney Luis Mendez personally handed Baker a $25,000 check.

“I'm relieved to finally see some closure,” Baker said.

Mendez said he also distributed another $57,500 to three other of Mussari’s victims.

“Whatever money he cannot come up with immediately will be ordered as part of his probation conditions, but he has to pay all of the victims ultimately,” Mendez said.

In total, Mussari bilked a total of $217, 000 out of 14 people who entered into exotic car deals with him, according to Mendez.

Mendez said the restitution is part of a plea bargain scheduled to take place on April 3.

The Deputy DA said Mussari will plead guilty to eight counts of grand theft and what's called a "white collar crime enhancement of over $100,000.”

The penalties include full restitution and one year in prison.

According to Mendez, if Mussari pays another $30,000 in restitution before the plea, he can argue for work privileges during his one year of incarceration.

"The restitution is a good faith effort to make the alleged victims whole again,” Mussari’s attorney Anthony Colombo told NBC 7 Investigates in a phone interview.

When asked about the plea Colombo said, "I don't want to speak about specifics of the agreement until after the court appearance."

For Baker, Mussari’s sentence is not nearly enough.

“I don't think it is long enough in my opinion, for as many victims involved here and as much money we are talking about,” he said.

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