ERIE, Pa. -

A former president of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association and one of his store managers recently pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of fraud conspiracy, according to an announcement from U.S. Attorney Scott Brady.

The Justice Department said former NIADA president Andy Gabler of Harborcreek, Pa., and Chad Bednarski, of Fairview, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count before U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter.

Last August, the Justice Department revealed a 17-count indictment against Gabler and Bednarski.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Gabler, as the owner of Lakeside Auto Sales and Lakeside Chevrolet, and Bednarski, as the finance manager of Lakeside Chevrolet, engaged in the following illegal activity between January 2015 and January 2019:

— Gabler falsely indicated that customers made down payments and falsified and inflated the income of customers when submitting auto loan applications to financial institutions on behalf of customers.

— Gabler caused extended warranties to be sold to customers buying vehicles at Lakeside Auto Sales and Lakeside Chevrolet and deliberately failed to remit the paperwork and payments to the extended warranty company.

— Gabler and Bednarski falsely reported vehicle sales to General Motors for vehicles that had not been sold in order to obtain expiring incentive rebates, and.

— Gabler and Bednarski deliberately did not inform S&T Bank when Lakeside Auto Sales and Lakeside Chevrolet sold a vehicle that the dealerships had purchased utilizing S&T Bank’s floor plan financing in order to delay and attempt to avoid the dealerships’ required payment to S&T Bank for the sold vehicles which had been purchased using S&T Bank’s floor plan financing.

Baxter scheduled sentencing for Jan. 6 for Gabler and Bednarski according to the announcement. Officials said the law provides for a total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $1 million or both.

Under the federal sentencing guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentencing, the court continued Gabler and Bednarski on bond.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

Officials added the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Gabler and Bednarski.