INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Twenty-five-year-old Terry Morrow was sentenced to 15 years in prison by a Jackson County judge Thursday, after pleading guilty to 20 crimes involving fraudulent car loans. The crimes include identity theft, forgery and deceptive business practices.
Three investigators and four victims testified during the sentencing hearing that lasted longer than four hours. The victims told stories about how they either purchased a car, test drove a car or inquired about buying a car from Morrow. During the process, Morrow got copies of their driver's licences and obtained personal information, which he used to apply for fraudulent car loans.
In court, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Morrow obtained $1.1 million worth of fraudulent contracts.
Some of the victims testified that they did not know they had been the victim of identity theft until repo men showed up at their door to repossess cars they never owned.
Over several years, Morrow owned two car dealerships, one in Missouri called Edge Automotive and then opened another in Illinois. He told investigators he did do legitimate car deals and mixed a few "bad" deals in too, using the identity of people whose, "credit is shot as it is." Investigators told the court how Morrow worked his scam with a precise calculation of his victim, the car and the down payment that would make him the most money.
Morrow also set up a fake car dealership, under someone else's name. That victim gave Morrow his personal information when he called Edge Automotive looking for a second chance loan.
During the sentencing, Morrow's attorney argued these weren't violent crimes and asked for probation. The judge rejected that request, because of what he said is a mountain of evidence against Morrow. The judge's opinion was that Morrow had the opportunity to stop his fraudulent practices, but didn't, and the fact that his victims suffered and in some cases are still suffering because of Morrow's actions.
A couple victims spoke to FOX 4's Shannon O'Brien after the hearing concluded, one who said his credit was ruined because of a fraudulent loan taken by Morrow in his name. It kept him from being able to get an apartment or car in his name for two-and-a-half years.
"It's made it a hardship on my family, it's put a lot stress on my wife and my kids, I'm just happy for this to be over," Joshua Hill said. "I think he deserved it (15 years in prison) I do forgive him for what's he's done, but today he's the same old Terry."