By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has scheduled an arraignment for a 28-year-old Elk Mound man accused of defrauding another man out of $2,700 for a car repair.
The Honorable William Stewart, Jr. accepted the waiver of a preliminary hearing from Jonathan W. Meyer in Dunn County Circuit Court August 6 and scheduled an arraignment hearing for September.
According to the criminal complaint, Meyer, the owner of J&M Automotive in Elk Mound, accepted $2,700 from Thomas Beguhn to repair Beguhn’s 1984 Buick Grand National but never repaired the car.
Beguhn told investigators that the engine block started leaking in 2011 and that he had placed the car on a trailer.
Beguhn said Jonathan Meyer had approached him, had inquired about the vehicle and had said he would be interested in working on the Buick Grand National.
In August of 2011, Beguhn took the vehicle to J&M Automotive and paid $1,000 for work to be completed on the vehicle.
One month later, Meyer contacted Beguhn, said parts were difficult to get for the Buick because only a few of the engines were made, and that he needed another $700 to buy a part that he needed.
According to sources on the Internet, only 2000 of the 1984 Buick Grand Nationals were made. The car is considered a “muscle car,” and in 1984, it showcased the new turbo-charged 3.8 liter V-6 engine. The car — which only came in black — was designed to draw younger buyers into the Buick showrooms.
After paying the $700 in September of 2011, Beguhn was again contacted by Meyer several weeks later and wrote another check for $1,000.
More than a year later, by October of 2012, Beguhn had not heard anything from Meyer about the car and his calls were not being returned.
Beguhn went to J&M Automotive, and the secretary in the front office and mechanics in the shop said that no vehicle by that name or description had been in the business in the last year, according to the criminal complaint.
The next day, Beguhn confronted Meyer about the Buick and eventually discovered that it was in the woods behind a residence in Eau Claire, which turned out to be Meyer’s parents’ address.
The Buick was brought back to J&M Automotive, and when Beguhn called back to check on the progress, he was told the engine had been taken to another business in Eau Claire County. When Beguhn contacted the other business, he was told they did not have the Buick engine nor would they do business with J&M Automotive because J&M owed them a large sum of money, the complaint states.
When a Dunn County sheriff’s deputy went to J&M Automotive to check on the Buick, Meyer showed the deputy that the engine had been removed from the car, said that it was in the shop in pieces and that there were parts for it upstairs and downstairs.
Meyer told the deputy that he was having trouble keeping his business going and that he had used Beguhn’s $2,700 to pay other bills, according to the criminal complaint.
The deputy explained that it was contractor fraud to use money designated for one vehicle to pay other bills and to then not repair the vehicle for which the payment was made.
The deputy gave Meyer 30 days to repair the Buick, put it back together, deliver it to Beguhn and repay the $2,700.
In November of 2012, Beguhn contacted the sheriff’s department to say that he had picked up the Buick but that the car still did not have an engine and that he had not been repaid the $2,700, according to the complaint.
Beguhn said he had been told that the engine work would be completed and he would get his money back but that when he returned to J&M Automotive, Meyer told him he would not pay Beguhn because he had a business to run and could not afford to pay him.
When the deputy went to J&M, Meyer told him he had gotten a bank loan for $2,700 to pay Beguhn.
The deputy told Meyer he had just gotten off the telephone with Beguhn, who had said Meyer refused to pay him.
Meyer asked if he could just repay the money, but the deputy told him he already had been given 30 days to do that and then explained that Meyer was under arrest for theft by fraud.
Theft by fraud of between $2,500 and $5,000 is a Class I felony and carries a potential penalty of a fine of $10,000 and/or three years and six months in prison.
Bail was set for Meyer with a $1,500 signature bond in December of 2012.
Meyer is scheduled to be arraigned on September 30 in Dunn County Circuit Court.