Montgomery auto dealer given 9-year jail term, $15,000 fine


Montgomery County luxury foreign car dealer Gordon R. Tatum Jr. has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison and fined $15,000 for concealing property from creditors and bankruptcy trustees and for lying under oath at a deposition and a creditors' meeting.

U.S. Attorney Breckinridge L. Willcox said Tatum's sentence is the longest ever imposed in Maryland in a bankruptcy fraud case.

"It should send a strong message to those who would attempt to circumvent the bankruptcy laws," Willcox said.

Senior Judge Herbert F. Murray, who imposed the sentence on Tatum in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, said Tatum had "not learned much" from three run-ins since 1974 with state and federal authorities that resulted in convictions on fraud and theft charges related to his auto dealerships.

Murray convicted Tatum in a June bench trial of three counts of bankruptcy fraud. The sentence the judge imposed consisted of three consecutive three-year prison terms.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry D. Adams presented evidence at the trial showing that Tatum had concealed 13 exotic sports cars, including a Ferrari and two Mercedes-Benz cars, plus drag racers, vans and $209,000 in cash from his creditors and the bankruptcy trustees.

Tatum, who filed for bankruptcy in 1984, also lied about his transfers of assets, his business relationships and his knowledge of the locations of several Ferraris, Adams contended.

Trial testimony also showed that Tatum pledged Ferraris and other imported cars to two or more creditors as collateral in order to obtain loans for his business ventures.

After the sentencing, Murray released Tatum on a $35,000 bond pending his appeal of the most recent convictions.

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