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Post date: May 25 2004

Spitzer Thanks Financial Institutions' Efforts For Consumers

Attorney General Spitzer today thanked nearly two dozen financial institutions for voluntarily providing relief to consumers victimized by Livingston County auto dealers.

"Through the magnanimity of these financial institutions, scores of victims of the illegal practices of these auto dealerships will no longer face dunning letters, repossession of their vehicles, and potential lawsuits," Spitzer said. "I commend these financial institutions for putting the needs of these consumers first."

In 2001, Spitzer's office filed a lawsuit against the owners of the Least Auto Group and its various auto dealerships including Least Ford, Inc., Least Chrysler Dodge Jeep, and Least Chevrolet, Inc. for engaging in numerous fraudulent practices including failing to pay the outstanding balance on loans for trade-in vehicles that were used as payment toward the purchase of a car at the dealership. Approximately 70 consumers' credit records were damaged as a result of their being unaware they remained responsible for making payments on these loans.

The relief provided through the financial institutions - through satisfaction-of-loan documents for consumers whose loans on their trade-in vehicles were not paid-off and lien releases for the consumers who subsequently purchased the traded-in vehicles - totals almost $1.2 million.

Many of these consumers faced serious financial problems as a result of the Leasts' actions.

Joining the Attorney General in announcing relief for consumers are representatives of: Ameri-Credit Corporation; Arcadia Financial Corporation; Bank of Castile; Canandaigua National Bank; Charter One Financial, Inc.; Citizen's Bank; Credit Acceptance Corporation; Daimler-Chrysler Financial Corporation; Ford Motor Credit Corporation; General Motors Acceptance Corporation; Glens Falls National Bank; GVTA Federal Credit Union; HSBC; Highland Lease Corporation; J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.; Key Bank; M&T Bank; National City Corporation; Steuben Trust Company; Wells Fargo Financial Acceptance; Wells Fargo Bank of Alaska and Wyoming County Bank.

Simultaneous with the commencement of the 2001 civil action seeking consumer restitution, civil penalties and a court order barring the Leasts from defrauding any additional consumers, Livingston County District Attorney Thomas Moran along with Spitzer's Criminal Prosecution Bureau commenced a criminal case against the auto dealership owners, Gary Least and Tarryn Least.

Two judgments have been issued against the Leasts for $1.3 million on behalf of 212 consumers. These judgments were issued in relation to the Leasts' criminal pleas to forgery and fraud and an April 2003 decision issued by Acting Livingston County State Supreme Court Justice Patricia Marks affirming the Attorney General's allegations against the Leasts. In issuing the ruling, Justice Marks also:

  • Barred Gary Least from engaging in the business of sales, brokering, rental or leasing of automobiles;
  • Ordered Tarryn Least to post a $250,000 performance bond prior to engaging in the businesses of auto sales and leasing;
  • Ordered the defendants to cooperate in repairing the credit records of victimized consumers.

Spitzer thanked Livingston County District Attorney Thomas Moran for his cooperation on this matter.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Carlos Rodriguez of the Rochester Regional office and Assistant Attorney General Paul McCarthy of the Criminal Prosecution Bureau.