Judge grants delay for ex-car salesman’s federal fraud trial

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 1:15 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2021 at 12:19 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A federal judge has granted a motion to delay a fraud trial for the former owner of vehicle consignment businesses.

John M. Solberg was scheduled to stand trial in federal court on 15 counts of fraud in November. On Oct. 14, Solberg’s newly hired attorneys filed a motion in federal court asking for continuance. One of the attorneys suffered a death in the family and says he’s been unable to prepare for the five-day trial scheduled to start Nov. 8.

The defense says they’ve been served with “new discovery entailing over 900 documents... which includes videos, documents, CDs, statements and photographs, further making adequate preparation unrealistic.”

Attorney Brett Reetz says the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not object to the continuance.

The judge granted the delay based on the reasons in the motion.

Solberg was arrested and charged in November of 2019 after a multi-year investigation into his businesses Standard Pre-Owned and Backwoods Bargains in Suamico and Kaukauna. Investigators say he forged titles and sold cars but kept money instead of paying the owners of the vehicles.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment on 15 counts of fraud.

In July, First Alert Investigation reported that Solberg changed his mind about entering a guilty plea as part of a plea agreement. Then prosecutor Daniel Humble requested a jury trial for October 2021. On Aug. 30, the attorney representing Solberg at the time filed a motion to withdraw from the case, saying “communications between the defendant and counsel have deteriorated to such a significant level that further competent representation cannot be provided.” The court pushed the trial back to November.

As part of our First Alert Investigation, Solberg told us repeatedly by phone and through messages that he was prepared to pay victims who’ve accused him of fraud in the car consignment case.

A new prosecutor has been assigned to the case. Assistant United States Attorney Julie F. Stewart is representing the government, taking over for Daniel Humble.

First Alert Investigation has discovered information connecting Solberg to new businesses. Some customers say they have had issues with their projects. For months, we’ve received calls from people saying they hired a new roofing company to do work that was not done to their liking or led to the need for costly repairs. Others told us they worked for the business and were threatened and too afraid to talk to us on camera.

Following our initial report involving Solberg and other contracting businesses he’s associated with, we are continuing to receive messages from viewers saying they, too, have had problems with roofing work and are asking us to look into it.

We will continue to do that.

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