An unfortunate traffic stop has led to criminal charges against a 22-year-old man who is accused of selling a vehicle with an odometer that did not reflect the car's true mileage. The St. Louis man is facing felony charges in connection with the sale, according to media reports, which occurred about two years ago. The man was reportedly apprehended for his involvement with the fraud after the man who purchased the car became a member of the local police force.

Authorities report that the supposed victim in the case attempted to trade in a car that he had purchased from a seller on the popular Internet site Craigslist. When he took the vehicle to a dealership, a CARFAX report showed that the odometer had been tampered with, reducing the vehicle's mileage by nearly half, from 124,000 miles to 68,000 miles.

Court documents reveal that the suspect admitted to tampering with the vehicle's odometer before selling it; he knew he could obtain a higher price for a car with fewer miles. In an interview with local media sources, however, the man changed his story. He says he had punched out the display during an argument with a friend, and he had replaced it with a different odometer that showed fewer miles. The man contends that he did not really pay attention to the odometer reading when he sold the car, saying that he was young and forgetful.

The man has been charged with a felony count of unlawful merchandise practice. His bail has been set at $5,000. He appears to have a previous criminal history that includes traffic violations in three nearby counties.

Attorneys for the man have not said whether he intends to plead guilty in connection with the incident, though a guilty plea could prevent him from going to jail or lower the charge to a misdemeanor. A jury trial could exonerate the man completely, though. Depending on the amount of available evidence, the man's legal team may advise him to proceed with a not guilty plea.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Traffic stop in St. Louis County costly for accused swindler," Joel Currier, Jan. 15, 2013.