Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Court Order Against Poughkeepsie Chevrolet For Fraudulent Sales Practices

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (March 24, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has obtained a court order banning the former owner of Poughkeepsie Chevrolet from the automobile sales business in New York state and requiring the dealer to turn over sales records since 2005 to help identify consumers who may have been ripped off.

Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation determined that Poughkeepsie Chevrolet sales staff 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 court order, signed by Acting Supreme Court Justice Thomas Dolan of Dutchess County Supreme Court, bars the former owner of Poughkeepsie Chevrolet, Inc. and Poughkeepsie Chevrolet Oldsmobile Cadillac Raymond M. Wilkinson, III from operating a car dealership in New York unless he posts a $200,000 performance bond. Wilkinson is also required to provide the Attorney General’s Office with a list of all consumers who purchased used vehicles from Poughkeepsie Chevrolet since December 2005 so the office can determine who will be eligible for restitution.

“This order provides some justice for Mid-Hudson consumers who were not provided with an accurate history before they agreed to purchase a vehicle,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “This dealership violated the law by failing to provide proper disclosures in its contracts, and deceived customers in an attempt to cover up its fraudulent acts.”

In December 2008, the Attorney General’s Office obtained a court order allowing it to freeze approximately $120,000 from Poughkeepsie Chevrolet’s and Wilkinson’s personal assets. The new order allows the Attorney General’s Office to determine which customers should receive restitution out of those funds. Consumers who purchased vehicles from Poughkeepsie Chevrolet after December 2005 are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Poughkeepsie Regional Office at 845-485-3900 by July 20 in order to be considered for restitution.

The Attorney General’s investigation, which included the examination of sales records for the previous year, 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, as the dealership was not licensed to sell insurance. 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 were completed.

The case is being 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.