AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Renters beware: customers are accusing a Budget Rent-A-Car agency in British Columbia, Canada of grossly overcharging them.
Crooked cops are scary, hard to pin down and dangerous but one California man caught one — literally — flying into his back seat.
Brian Hitchcock’s story started 18 months ago when a California motorcycle cop rear ended him seconds after leaving a stoplight. The officer flew headfirst into the back seat of Hitchcock’s convertible BMW 328i. A witness saw what happened and snapped the photo above which quickly went viral.
Officer Anthony Parente didn’t waste any time in sending out an “officer down” call which brought swarms of emergency vehicles to his aid. Unfortunately for Hitchcock, that also painted him in a less-than-favorable light to the arriving officers who spent the next couple hours questioning him.
After researching the human cannonball that landed in his back seat, Hitchcock learned that Parente had a record of similar incidents. Furthermore, he seemed to have pursued the civilians’ insurance companies and to have claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability pay as a result of his exploits.
As the court date assigned to the incident approached, the charges against Hitchcock which included assault and reckless driving, were dropped.
“My insurance company rejected Parente’s claim,” Hitchcock said to the L.A. Times. “I told them I was prepared to go to court to prove that I was telling the truth, so they didn’t pay him. He finally targeted the wrong guy.”
Now, Hitchcock is preparing to sue both Officer Parente and the Hermosa Beach Police Department.
[Source: L.A. Times]
You don’t mess with GM, as a car salesman and a trucking company owner found out recently. They’ve been charged by the FBI for allegedly selling more than 200 Hummers overseas with phony titles and collecting more than $500,000 in unearned incentives from General Motors.
Steve Romshek, a former salesman at the Huber dealership in Omaha (that’s the one that sold the Hummers), has been arrested, while Marilyn Maskill, owner of an Overland Park, Kan., trucking company, hasn’t been arrested yet. According to an Associated Press report, the crafty pair sold the Hummers in 2005 and 2006 to a small broker in Chillicothe, Mo. The Hummers were then resold overseas and exported to Nigeria, Germany, Canada, Japan, just to name a few countries. With the fraudulent titles, they were able to pocket more than $500,000 in unearned incentives from General Motors – and that’s money they shouldn’t have been eligible to collect. In total, the pair is facing 11 counts of wire fraud and one charge of conspiracy.
As for the Huber dealership, they cooperated with FBI investigators and settled things General Motors and regulators a few years back. They also had to pay a $100,000 fine to a state licensing board, but admitted no wrongdoing. It’s interesting to note that this fine was the largest ever handed down by the Nebraska Vehicle Industry Licensing Board.
It’s still unknown whether or not the couple who owned the Missouri car brokerage will be charged. They could be on the hook, as they bought more than 200 Hummers from Huber in 2005 and 2006.
We’ll keep you posted when we hear of any further developments. Until then, don’t try to mess with GM – they mean business and apparently have the FBI’s number on speed dial!
[Source: USA Today]
The United States Federal Government’s cynical Keynesian vehicle scrappage program scheme was by all accounts a success (if you believe that blind consumption is a win), but some dealers apparently skirted the rules, and now the government is looking for dealers who may have gamed the system – and may withhold $94 million in rebates because of it.
Dealers have already paid out $71,500 in fines, despite NHTSA calling the shady establishments a minority of participating dealerships. However, some shady claims are still being investigating. Among them,
- The overseas exportation of vehicles claimed to have been destroyed after trade-in
- $878,000 in “improper payments” which were subsequently returned
- Several junkyards maintaining improper paperwork that makes it impossible for government officials to verify vehicle trade-ins
While NHTSA says that most of the dealers are legitimate, but noted that some fines have been as large as $21,000. The government may withhold the $94 million in rebates due to missing paperwork that validates the trade-ins. This figure is expected to make up about 3.3% of all trade-ins.
[Source: USA Today]