Former Chattanooga auto dealership chief Joseph Prebul must report to a federal prison on May 6 after a surprise ruling Friday in which a judge sentenced him to a year of incarceration.

Mr. Prebul, who went through months of criminal prosecution for allegedly bilking his brother-in-law out of about $7 million, seemed to have gotten his life back in order last fall when a friend made him the sales manager of the Lexus showroom at Capital Toyota and Lexus of Chattanooga.

Mr. Prebul, whose dealerships across Chattanooga and North Georgia went bankrupt amid a dizzying array of criminal and civil litigation, "deserved a second chance," Capital Toyota and Lexus President Bob McKamey said when giving him the job.

Mr. McKamey did not return calls Friday with regard to whether Mr. Prebul’s job would be waiting for him when he is released from prison.

On Friday, Mr. Prebul received the maximum punishment allowed after pleading guilty in November 2009 in U.S. District Court in New York to one count of misdemeanor bank larceny of $750.

He also must serve 400 hours of community service when he is released. It is not yet known in which federal prison he must serve his time.

Chattanooga Times -Free Press