Mill Basin car dealer pleads guilty to fraud in federal court

On the water: The new Kristal Automall going up sits near the Four Sparrows Marsh off of Flatbush Avenue.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

The owner of the city’s largest minority-owned car dealership — Kristal Automall on Kings Highway — has ’fessed up to trying to swaddle a massive vehicle corporation out of millions of dollars about five years ago.

Owner Lilaahar “Sammy” Bical — a former friend and business partner of the disgraced former state Sen. John Sampson (D–Canarsie) — pleaded guilty in federal court on Oct. 4 to cooking up a fraud scheme with his other partner to get General Motors to hand over $15 million under false pretenses so that he could purchase a Flatbush Avenue plot of land from the city to build his new dealership as a GM franchise.

Prosecutors aren’t forcing Bical to cough up his land right next to Kings Plaza and big box toy retailer Toys ‘R’ Us, but as he faces up to six months in prison, and the fate of the notoriously controversial site is even more up in the air, said a local pol.

“I can only speculate — I can’t believe that he will not lose his franchise. There’s no precedent, I’ve never heard of anything like this before,” said Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Mill Basin). “I’m worried that it’s such an eyesore, I mean it looks like, — I can’t even describe it — it looks like a prison. This has been in the planning stages for a very, very long time.”

Bical bought the site — about the size of two football fields — from the city’s Economic Development Corporation for $4.2 million in March 2013. It sat abandoned for years, but workers started making progress on the site back in March, elating many locals who were fed up with its inactivity.

General Motors declined to comment on whether it will sever ties with Bical, saying their dealers are expected to follow the law, but that they don’t discuss the terms and conditions of their dealership sales and service agreements.

The city’s Economic Development Corporation was not aware of Bical’s legal troubles or his confessed crimes, said a spokeswoman.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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