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by Julie R. Cryser
(June 16)The state Attorney General's Office has filed a complaint in Taylor County Circuit Court against Ideal Motors Inc. and 16 associated people and companies.
The complaint alleges the company used false advertising to lure consumers, falsified credit applications and conducted a host of other illegal activities.
"There were a lot of people who were really badly harmed," said Charli Fulton, assistant attorney general in Charleston.
About 150 people have filed complaints with the attorney general since Ideal, a car dealership, went out of business in January.
The company closed amid a wave of complaints that it had used unfair practices to sell cars and did not pay off loans on trade-ins. The state Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the Grafton company's car dealership license.
"We have a whole rash of allegations that relate to what happened at the end," Fulton said.
The office is seeking an injunction against Larry Reed of Grafton; Jerry Stalnaker of Philippi; Joe Parrish of 130 Valley Drive in Bridgeport; Sean Parrish of 120 Hilltop Drive in Bridgeport; and Jamie Parrish of 102 Driftwood in Bridgeport.
Reed and Stalnaker sold the dealership to Joe Parrish in 1997. Parrish operated the company with his sons.
The defendants could not be reached for comment Monday. It will be up to the court to set a hearing date.
According to the complaint, the state is requesting that the court stop Reed, Stalnaker and all three Parrishes from selling cars by using unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
The complaint also asks that the court make the Parrishes stop consulting with automobile dealers in West Virginia. The complaint alleges the three consult with auto dealers to tell them how to increase sales through the use of unfair or deceptive practices.
The office is also asking the court to keep three banking establishments Ñ National City Bank of Pennsylvania, Primus Automotive Financial Services and Bankers Trust Ñ from repossessing cars bought at Ideal.
The office will seek restitution for those who suffered out-of-pocket losses and other damages as a result of the car dealership's alleged actions.
"The systems he (Joe Parrish) set up were based on unfair and deceptive practices," Fulton said.
Fulton said Joe Parrish asked consumers to sign blank contracts and helped them fill out credit applications with improper information so they could easily get car loans. The complaint alleges the company also advertised cars at $99 down and low monthly payments but never sold cars under those conditions.
"When Ideal closed in January, it left consumers holding the bag," Fulton said.