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Post date: July 11 2003

Judge Orders Refunds For Consumers

Attorney General Spitzer today praised a court ruling that will ensure that dozens of consumers receive restitution that was promised, but not delivered, by a Greene County auto dealer.

State Supreme Court Justice Leslie E. Stein ordered Condor Pontiac, Cadillac, Buick and GMC Truck, Inc. of Catskill to fully comply with the out-of-court settlement it reached with Spitzer's office last year.

"This decision is a victory for the many individuals who were duped by this auto dealer into buying former rental cars," Spitzer said. "The actions of this dealership - both before this office's investigation and after settling the case - demonstrate the need for vigilance in enforcement efforts to protect consumers from false, fraudulent and illegal business practices."

In February 2002, Spitzer's office settled an investigation with Condor after discovering sales to six consumers who had unwittingly bought former rental cars without receiving statutorily-required disclosures about the vehicles' former use. In settling the case, Condor agreed to pay $13,600 to those consumers, plus additional unspecified refunds to other consumers who had unknowingly bought former rental cars, and who filed complaints within 120 days of the settlement.

Spitzer's office received 83 additional complaints from 81 consumers during the following four month period. Although Condor paid 17 of the consumers the promised refunds totaling nearly $36,000, the auto dealer refused to pay the remaining 66 claims, representing nearly $140,000. After numerous attempts to get Condor to comply with the agreement, Spitzer's office filed a lawsuit last November.

In her decision, Justice Stein rejected Condor's claim that it provided consumers with the requisite notice of the vehicle's former use and found that, in some instances, Condor doctored evidence after sales in an attempt to show compliance with the law.

The judge ordered Condor to pay restitution - plus interest - to the 64 consumers it refused to pay. In addition, the judge assessed $8,700 in civil penalties, representing a $100 penalty for each of the 87 fraudulent and deceptive acts by the auto dealership. The judge also ordered Condor to pay $2,000 in costs to the state.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office with the assistance of Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops.