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Ex-Honda Exec Implicates Former Colleague in Kickbacks Trial

March 7, 1995

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) _ A former American Honda Motor Co. executive testified today that he received $50,000 to help approve a California dealership that was below Honda standards.

Robert Rivers, testifying against two former colleagues, said the money was part of about $800,000 in kickbacks he received through the years from people who wanted lucrative dealerships.

Rivers said defendant John Billmyer insinuated that executives should keep quiet if they were getting paid off. At that time, Billmyer was the company’s top U.S. sales representative.

Billmyer, Rivers, Dennis Josleyn and other former executives were accused of accepting $15 million in cash and gifts from dealers in more than 30 states in exchange for supplies of the popular car. Twenty people have pleaded guilty; two others have pleaded innocent and await trial.

Billmyer and Josleyn are charged with taking bribes from dealers in exchange for doling out favorable treatment. Josleyn is also charged with taking kickbacks from sales training and advertising projects. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Billmyer faces up to five years.

Josleyn says American Honda considered the payoffs an unofficial perk, but the company denies that. Billmyer says he broke no laws.

Rivers pleaded guilty to racketeering and participating in schemes to defraud the company. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced.

He testified that Josleyn, Billmyer and many other executives bought into the unwritten policy that it was OK to sell a chance at dealerships. The franchises should have been free and awarded on merit.

The case unfolded in New Hampshire when a dealer sued American Honda, claiming he had been treated unfairly.

American Honda faces millions of dollars in lawsuits from dealers who did not receive preferential treatment.

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