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Bay City classic car dealer accused of larceny, alleged victims want justice

David Cotten accused of selling customer's cars and then keeping the proceeds.
Published: Aug. 25, 2020 at 6:05 PM EDT
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BAY CITY , Mich. (WJRT) - A Bay County man is accused selling a classic car that actually, wasn’t his.

We’ve talked with other people who say the man did the same thing to them.

“This was the problem with David, he was your friend until he committed larceny on you,” says Allen Kayler, who lives in Arizona.

He is talking about David Cotten, who ran Bay City Motor Company out of a building on Water Street. The building was once full of classic cars, but now they are all gone. Kaylor was hoping Cotten would sell two of Kayler’s classics, a 1966 Nova and a 1967 Chevelle. Kayler lived in Washington state and shipped them to Bay City in 2018. Cotten got the cars, but had a problem.

“He said you didn’t send me the titles, and of course, I didn’t, the cars aren’t sold, he said well I have a guy that wants to buy them, he is so hot for these, send me the titles,” Cotten told Kayler.

Kayler sent the titles, but that deal fell through. Months went by, and they the cars were not sold. At least that’s what Cotten told Kayler.

“Any offers on the vehicles, and interest, oh lots of interest but people don’t have the kind of money these cars are worth,” Kayler remembers Cotten saying in 2019.

Kayler says Cotten was asking $153,000 for the Nova and $85,000 for the Chevelle. Months later In December 2019, Kayler got suspicious.

“I found one of my vehicles was in Virginia, and the other one, David Cotten sold to a Red Hill Speed Shop in Red Hills, Utah,” he says.

He says Cotten, seen here in an earlier news story, sold the cars and didn’t pass along proceeds to Kayler. A man in Florida filed a civil lawsuit against Cotten for doing the same thing, and last year, Cotten was ordered to pay the man $253,000, but its not clear if Cotten has paid. Cotten also faces a criminal charge of larceny by conversion in connection with that same case after an investigation by the Michigan Department of State Regulatory Monitoring Division and Michigan State Police. Bill Salmeri says Cotten sold Salmeri’s 1967 Mustang, but again, never paid Salmeri for the car. Salmeri estimates the value of the Mustang was around $50,000. Matthew Hewitt is Cotten’s attorney and says its an ongoing matter and “we are working to resolve the case.” Kayler and Salmeri are not part of the criminal case and haven’t filed civil lawsuits, but are hoping the state’s Attorney General’s office or the FBI takes interest in their dealings with Cotten

“I want to see him convicted, I want to see him in prison and I think most of the individuals involved feel the same way,” says Kayler.

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