The former general manager of Coleman RV and Coleman Toyota in Baton Rouge, La., masterminded a scheme to steal as much as $5 million from the dealerships, the Coleman family alleges in a lawsuit filed in 19th Judicial District Court.
According to a report in The Advocate, the lawsuit states that the alleged “theft, embezzlement and/or negligence” by Louis W. “Chip” Bignar and his co-conspirators’ caused losses so great that the Coleman family was forced to sell its dealerships.
The family’s patriarch, Robert E. Coleman, Sr., who founded the dealerships died in December. Recently, the family sold the RV and Toyota car dealership along with an Isuzu truck dealership
The lawsuit seeks damages from Bignar, former Coleman comptroller Lesa Callegan and Louis Favorite, a contractor who worked for the dealership and allegedly received exorbitant payments.
“The family is financially devastated by this, and we’re going to use any legal means available to pursue these people,” said Herschel Adcock Sr., attorney for the Colemans.
The alleged fraud was discovered after a check of the dealerships’ financial records revealed some questionable transactions, Adcock said. An audit by accounting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville found a number of problems.
The Coleman family has notified the FBI, which is investigating, Adcock said. FBI officials do not comment on investigations.