The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled the manager of Davenport car dealership did not commit fourth-degree theft when he refused to return the deposit a customer had placed on a van. In June of 2005, Michelle Morgan gave the Motorhaus dealership in Davenport five-hundred dollars to hold a Honda van until she got financing lined up. But Morgan couldn’t get financing and asked for her deposit back the next day.
The dealership refused, saying she’d signed a paper that said her money could be claimed by the dealership as "liquidated damages" for the failed sale. Morgan called police and dealership manager Bruce Ruben Duque was eventually charged with fourth-degree theft. Duque represented himself during a jury trial and lost. He was ordered to spend two months in jail and pay a one-thousand dollar fine.
Duque hired an attorney to handle his appeal. The Iowa Court of Appeals says it is reasonable to question whether the dealership had the right to keep Morgan’s money, but the appeals court says there isn’t sufficient evidence to support the theft conviction.