BANGOR — A used car dealer accused by Maine’s attorney general of unfair and deceptive trade practices will be able to continue selling vehicles for at least two more weeks while his attorney collects documents from the state to fight a 180-day suspension of the dealer’s business license.
Glenn A. Geiser Jr., 48, of Brewer, who owns the My Maine Ride dealership in Bangor, is fighting the six-month suspension issued to him by Garry R. Hinkley, director of the secretary of state’s vehicle services division, on Dec. 20. It was to go into effect on Jan. 6, but Geiser sought a review.
A Monday hearing was scheduled by the secretary of state’s office during which the suspension was to be reviewed. It was postponed when Geiser’s attorney, Joseph Baldacci of Bangor, learned the state had records related to the suspension it had not turned over to him.
“Counsel for My Maine Ride did not receive a complete discovery,” hearing officer Joanne Baumrind of the secretary of state’s office said Monday morning after a closed-door meeting with Geiser, Baldacci and Maine State Police. “He received some documents but not all of them.”
In a separate action, Geiser is being sued by Attorney General Janet T. Mills for alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices. Mills wants a permanent injunction to bar Geiser and any entity in which he has an ownership interest from promoting, selling and-or financing used cars.
Geiser will be allowed to continue to sell vehicles at least until the rescheduled suspension hearing Feb. 26 at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles office at the Airport Mall, according to an official with the secretary of state’s office. Baldacci said he expects to receive additional paperwork this week.
“They still have 40 or 50 more pages to give me,” he said. “I made a request to get information and I did not get the totality of what the hearing officer had until Friday.”
“I learned this morning there was more,” Baldacci said later.
Baumrind, who was standing just outside the entry to the BMV office in the Airport Mall, apologized to the 15 or so people who arrived at the hearing hoping to have their say at the public meeting.
The rescheduled hearing is open to the public, but no public comments will be allowed, she said.
“There is going to be a [separate] hearing for the Attorney General’s office,” Baumrind said. “And that is where you will be able to speak.” It could not be immediately determined when the separate hearing will take place.
The attorney general’s complaint, filed Jan. 31 against Geiser, alleges that he and his dealerships, Bangor Car Care Inc., Bumper2Bumper Inc. and My Maine Ride, targeted consumers with poor credit who needed financing, pressured them to buy cars that were not roadworthy and did not respond to customer complaints, according to a press release issued Friday by Mills’ office.
The Consumer Protection Division of Mills’ office received 86 complaints in the last 13 months about My Maine Ride, 159 complaints about Bumper2Bumper since 2011, and 539 complaints about Bangor Car Care since 2003.
The state is seeking civil penalties, which could run as high as $10,000 for each violation; a permanent injunction to bar Geiser and any entity in which he has an ownership interest from promoting, selling and-or financing used cars; and reimbursement of the cost of the litigation, including attorney and expert witness fees.
“Targeting vulnerable people and duping them into buying cars that are not safe not only defrauds the consumer but puts every person traveling our roads at risk,” Mills said in the release. “We intend to put a stop to it.”
In addition to the civil complaint, Geiser has been charged in Penobscot County with 80 counts of using counterfeit inspection stickers, a Class E crime. He is scheduled to be tried April 9 at the Penobscot Judicial Center. If convicted, Geiser faces up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 on each count.
The secretary of state suspended Geiser’s used car dealer license and his dealer plates because the state determined he was “defrauding a retail buyer to the buyer’s disadvantage,” Hinkley’s letter states. “Specifically, My Maine Ride sold cars with counterfeit inspection stickers.”
The secretary of state suspension hearing only deals with the inspection sticker complaint, which asks: “Did he deceive the public?” Baumrind said.
If it’s determined that he did, Geiser’s six-month license suspension will go into effect, the hearing officer said.
“That is the maximum, that is my understanding,” Baldacci said, of the length of the suspension.
The attorney general already has a long list of complainants, said Sgt. Bruce Scott, of the Maine State Police’s traffic division, who stood beside Baumrind holding a stack of files more than a foot thick.
“If you’ve contacted the AG’s office and filed a report, they’ll have you on the list,” Scott said. “My understanding is there are a lot of people on the list.”
Others who have yet to file a complaint with the attorney general can find the information to do so at maine.gov/ag.
Geiser came and left Monday’s scheduled hearing using the DMV’s employee entrance. He could be seen smiling with his attorney after the brief meeting ended. He declined to comment, other than saying, “I don’t want to be on camera.”
More than a dozen people attended the scheduled hearing, some of whom said they hoped to speak about the negative experiences they had dealing with businesses operated by Geiser.
Bangor resident Marc Perry, who took time off work Monday to attend the hearing, is one of many who filed a complaint with the attorney general.
“I’ve got a lot to say,” Perry said before the hearing was scheduled to start.
Perry, who learned that the hearing was rescheduled about 40 minutes after it was supposed to start, said that he was disappointed that it was postponed.
“Based on the number of people who showed up I don’t think it’s right,” he said.
BDN reporter Judy Harrison contributed to this story.