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Clearwater car dealership employees face fraud charges staff

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Three people were arrested Thursday on charges they embezzled about $400,000 from a Clearwater car dealership where they were employed.

After a two-month investigation, deputies charged Larry Dubose, 39, of Tarpon Springs; James Surrett, 45, of Orlando; and Patricia Lipka, 51, of Fort Myers.

Deputies say the suspects, employed by Lokey Automotive — which incluces Lokey Nissan and Lokey VW on 27759 U.S. 19 N. — were also associated with an off-site marketing company.

Between June 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2012, deputies say the suspects used their positions — Dubose as sales manager, Surrett as general manager and Lipka as a controller in the accounting department — to complete invoices to the third-party company.

The invoices were billed to Lokey Automotive for marketing and mailing services that were never rendered, and they instead received those proceeds, deputies say.

Surrett on Thursday turned himself in to the Pinellas County Jail, deputies day. Dubose was arrested in Pasco County, and Lipka in Lee County. They each were charged with one count of scheme to defraud, deputies say.

They are each being held on $500,000 bond, jail records show.

The investigation continues.

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