PLAINS TOWNSHIP -- A Newswatch 16 investigation looks at a local used car dealer with a trail of angry customers.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's office now says Elite Motors at its two locations in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties broke consumer protection laws with at least 30 deals.
What the attorney general's office calls violations involve cars, trucks, and SUVs sold at Elite Motors dealership in Plains Township and a branch in Scranton, all in the past five years.
The most common complaint is that the dealer sold vehicles that would never pass state inspection.
Right after Annmarie Medina's family bought a 2012 Kia from Elite Motors in Plains Township last year, the car failed to pass the state's safety inspection.
"Bad brakes, bad rotors, tires are bad," Medina recalled.
Jonathan George bought a flatbed truck online from Elite Motors in Scranton two years ago.
He flew in from Texas to drive it home.
"I'm hopping in the truck, and the whole thing just falls out from underneath me. I mean, this seat should be bolted in pretty well," George said. "There's no seat belt to be found at all."
"Then I start to drive the truck, and the gas pedal is held on by a nail," George added.
The Iraqi War vet from Texas and the office worker from Scranton are just two of 30 car buyers who told the state attorney general's office that Elite Motors ripped them off.
"We want this car dealership to follow Pennsylvania law," said Deputy Attorney General Tom Cummings.
The attorney general's office is suing Elite Motors and its owner Robert Ferri in Commonwealth Court.
The suit accuses the dealership of selling cars that cannot pass state inspection, false advertising, and failing to get buyers the titles to the vehicles sold.
"Elite Motors is much higher (in complaints) than other used car dealerships, and it stood out for that reason," said Cummings.
At Elite Motors' Scranton lot, about 15 cars and SUVs face Keyser Avenue. Would they pass inspection? When we looked at the windshields, all vehicles either had no state inspection sticker or expired stickers.
Jonathan George took Elite Motors to court. He won an $11,000 judgment but he still hasn't been paid and is in the same situation now that he faced when we met him two years ago.
"I'm eating an $11,000 loan and I have to get back home to get to work. And this truck won't even make it," George said.
Court records show in the last six years, 17 Elite Motors' customers filed suit and won judgments against the dealership totaling $78,000.
The Better Business Bureau gives Elite Motors an F rating.
Annmarie Medina's family still doesn't have title to the Kia they bought in October at Elite Motors' main dealership in Plains Township for $8,000.
"I feel that they are scammers," Medina said.
When we tried to get the dealer's comment on the complaints, a man standing outside the office in Plains Township went in. A minute later, when we got to the front door, it was locked.
We've tried several times to get a comment from Elite Motors with no luck.
The attorney general's office wants Elite Motors to pay full restitution to at least 30 customers and pay the state fines for breaking consumer protection laws.
If Elite Motors fails, Deputy Attorney General Tom Cummings says dealership should be put out of business.
*Note: This story was updated to correct an earlier version that Elite Motors' Lackawanna County dealership is in Scranton and not Taylor.