Elite Auto may reopen under new name

December 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A Contra Costa County car dealer, already facing criminal charges, may be trying to open a new dealership. A 7 On Your Side investigation uncovered evidence that he was selling cars without providing the buyers with titles or registration.

Elite Auto owner Monty Slavens is scheduled to be arraigned next week in Contra Costa County Superior Court. As we first reported in July, the dealership has been closed by the state for failure to pay taxes. Despite the charges, many of his customers fear we haven't heard the last of Elite Auto.

Court documents from the district attorney outline the charges against elite auto owner Monty Slavens. He faces 11 criminal misdemeanor counts in all. Ten of those counts charge him with failing to transfer registration of cars sold to new owners. Now we've heard complaints about that a lot, including from Stan and Natalie Austria from Martinez.

"My wife received a ticket from the Martinez Police Department for no registration and no plates because we were sold a car with a salvage title that we did not know about and also a car that wasn't smogged that we paid for," said Stan.

The Austrias bought a Cadillac Seville nine months ago from Elite. The DMV confirms the couple still doesn't have the car's registration.

"I'm really upset it had to come to this point. I'm really upset," says Natalie.

William Gumataotao from Pleasanton knows what the Austrias are going through. He bought an Infiniti in 2009 from Elite. Eight months later, he still had no registration papers or license plate, and the car was repossessed.

"I was all dressed, ready to go to work, had my briefcase, walk out to my carport and there was no car," says Gumataotao.

William says he made $4,300 in payments for the car, but had refused to pay another penny until he received his registration. Now he's concerned Elite could reopen under a new name, but with many of the same people running it.

"They got consumers out there that have been damaged financially with no remorse, but they are now able to reopen under a different name. Absolutely, it bothers me," says Gumataotao.

The sign on the door said elite auto would reopen as AAA Auto on September 30th. That date came and went and several other opening dates have been missed too. The DMV confirms it received an application to reopen the dealership under a new name, but refuses to tell 7 On Your Side who applied for the license. The DMV has since returned that application as being incomplete.

Attempts to reach defendant Monty Slavens and his general manager to ask about the new dealership or the charges filed have been unsuccessful. 7 On Your Side interviewed Richard Barekzia from Elite Auto back in June.

Then he said, "The cars are properly registered. The complaints you have is because of repossession stuff. It has nothing to do with anything else."

Slavens faces jail time and a court order to pay the victims restitution if he is convicted. We also received numerous complaints that Elite sold cars that were in disrepair.

Remember, used car sales are generally not protected by a lemon law in California. It's highly recommended before you buy a used car, that you take it to an independent mechanic for an inspection.

Slavens is scheduled to be arraigned Monday on the 11 counts.

We want to make clear the dealership in Pittsburg has no known connection to a dealership in Daly City with a similar name -- Elite Motors. DMV records show the dealerships are under two different ownership groups.


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