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Post date: April 7 2010

Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Judgment Ordering Restitution To Consumers Of Poughkeepsie Car Dealer Who Unknowingly Bought Vehicles Previously Used As Rentals

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (April 7, 2010) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has obtained a judgment against the former owner of Poughkeepsie Chevrolet ordering him to pay restitution to consumers who unknowingly purchased vehicles which had been used as rental cars.

An investigation by Attorney General Cuomo’s Office determined that Poughkeepsie Chevrolet consistently failed to notify customers that the vehicles they purchased were previously used as rental vehicles - in violation of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law. Certain uses of vehicles, including use as a rental vehicle, can have a detrimental impact on the value of a car, leading buyers to either avoid the purchase or pay significantly less than what would otherwise be the fair market value.

The decision and judgment, issued by New York State Supreme Court Justice Hon. James V. Brands in Dutchess County, requires the former owner of Poughkeepsie Chevrolet, Inc. and Poughkeepsie Chevrolet Oldsmobile Cadillac Raymond M. Wilkinson III to pay $225,269.47 in restitution to consumers who were sold cars that were previously used as rental vehicles without the proper notification. In addition, the court imposed a civil penalty of $217,000, making the total amount owed to consumers and the state $442,269.47. Cuomo’s office previously obtained a court order freezing the assets of the company and requiring the dealership to turn over four years’ worth of sales records in order to determine who would be eligible for restitution.

“Customers unknowingly bought former rental cars, which is not only illegal, but also cheats the consumer because the vehicle is worth less,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This decision provides relief to consumers and holds the dealership and the dealer accountable for their actions.”

The Attorney General’s investigation also discovered the dealership engaged in other deceptive acts with regard to vehicle histories by omitting to include the previous owner(s) on sales documents. Poughkeepsie Chevrolet also illegally sold a road hazard insurance policy which the dealership was not licensed to sell. The dealership also failed to provide consumers with copies of the extended warranties they purchased. Poughkeepsie Chevrolet attempted to cover up their actions by producing to the Attorney General’s Office copies of purchase agreements that had been altered after the transactions had been completed.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Poughkeepsie Office Vincent Bradley. The investigation was assisted by Senior Consumer Frauds Representative Mark Hoops. Investigators Peter Schwindeller, Judith Koerber and Kathleen Coppersmith assisted in the investigation.