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SPRINGVILLE — The owner of a Utah County camping trailer business has been charged with pocketing insurance money and selling a trailer he was supposed to repair for a customer.
Benjamin Ashley Grimes, 46, of Springville, was charged Friday in 4th District Court with theft by deception, selling or buying without identification numbers, and fraudulent alteration of an identification number, all second-degree felonies.
In 2015, a man who lives in Homer, Alaska, "placed an order for an extreme camping trailer manufactured at the Moby1 Expedition Trailer manufacturing" at 221 W. 900 North, in Springville.
In 2017, the Alaska resident traveled to Springville and took possession of his camper. But just a few weeks later, the camper was involved in an accident in California, according to charging documents. The man took the camper trailer back to Moby1 to have repairs made.
An insurance settlement of more than $20,000 was then sent to Grimes to perform repairs on the trailer, according to the charges. Instead, prosecutors say Grimes "failed to return the repaired trailer, and the funds were not returned to" the owner or the insurance company.
"He ordered his employees to detach the upper teardrop cargo part of the trailer from the frame and place that cargo part on another frame and (Grimes) sold that trailer as new to another unidentified customer. (Grimes) took the VIN number tags from (the) original trailer frame, which were stickers, and proceeded to remove the numbers off the trailer frame with paint thinner," the charges state.
As of Friday, the Alaska owner "has never had his trailer returned to him or received the proceeds from his insurance claim settlement," according to the charges.
In March, the Alaska trailer owner filed a lawsuit against Moby1, Grimes and his wife. In the lawsuit, the owner states he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and the trailer was going to be his way of spending his "remaining time of good health on the road camping and visiting family."
But despite numerous calls, the man said Grimes never called him back.
He ordered his employees to detach the upper teardrop cargo part of the trailer from the frame and place that cargo part on another frame and (Grimes) sold that trailer as new to another unidentified customer.
"The defendants have not responded to (the man's) numerous attempts at communication since Nov. 3, 2018," the lawsuit states. "During the approximately two years that (his) travel trailer has been in the defendants’ possession, (the man's) health has deteriorated. (He) is no longer able to remain away from his home for periods longer than approximately two weeks. Due to defendants’ failure to complete their obligations … (the man) was and will be unable to spend his remaining time of good health traveling and visiting family."
On the Better Business Bureau website, there are seven people who have filed complaints about Moby1 dating back to 2017, most stating that they made down payments but had not received their trailers.
In March, Moby1, Grimes and his wife filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to federal court records.
The Utah Division of Consumer Protection filed a complaint against Moby1 in August, according to court documents. The division accused Moby1 of not delivering products when it said it would, and "misrepresented consumers' rights to obtain refunds," the lawsuit states.