Consumer-protection suit filed by Attorney General Beshear seeks $1.2M from auto dealer

08/02/2017 01:57 PM

LEXINGTON – Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing a Nicholasville auto dealer, accusing it of defrauding more than 1,400 customers of about $1.2 million between 2012 and 2016.

Beshear announced the lawsuit against Nicholasville-based Auto Plaza USA Wednesday at the Better Business Bureau’s Lexington office, accusing the dealership of violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act.

“The company represented to consumers both verbally and through written contracts that the sales price of their vehicle included all taxes owed,” Beshear said during a press conference.

“That is a representation that those buying a car received, but that was not the case. As a result, hundreds of consumers have received delinquent tax notices from the state. Many are left owing a tax bill that they already paid in full to Auto Plaza USA.”

The lawsuit is seeking $465,000 in restitution for customers who’ve received tax bills from the state Department of Revenue. Beshear accused Auto Plaza USA of filing fraudulent paperwork with county clerks in order to avoid paying full tax amounts on its sales.

The Office of the Attorney General is also looking for $685,000 in restitution for a “bogus” $489 fee the dealership charged for document preparations and services that it didn’t fully perform, plus “a significant penalty” to keep Auto Plaza USA from repeating its actions, Beshear said.

“I view this conduct as atrocious, and we’re going to ensure through this legal action that this company never engages in it again,” he said.

Beshear said his office received no cooperation from the auto dealer in its investigation, and Kim Sweazy, director of operations for the Lexington-based branch of the BBB, said the company said it had paid its taxes and felt it was “alleviated from any further payment to the consumer.”

Beshear said he’s not pursuing criminal action against Auto Plaza USA, saying that the type of alleged activity would fall under the jurisdictions of local commonwealth’s or county attorneys.

He also said he hoped that the Department of Revenue would work with Auto Plaza USA customers who have received tax notices.

“We hope that they will be understanding knowing that these people have been ripped off, that they will wait and that they will not charge any penalties,” he said. “Under the law that individual is responsible for paying their taxes, but this is a situation where we should understand that people have been harmed.”

The attorney general urged anyone who might have been defrauded by the dealership to contact his office.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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