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Pawnbroker Sues Rival Over Tactics : Oxnard: The defendant’s lawyer denies that his client intimidated customers with insults, anti-Semitic remarks and a talking robot.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Morris Funk wouldn’t go into details Monday about the rivalry, the alleged racial slurs and the robot next door that he says hurt his Oxnard pawnshop.

“But I can say this,” said Funk, surrounded by pawned tools, jewelry, guns and guitars at his Get-Mor Loan and Jewelry shop. “This is the first time in 27 years I’ve had to sue anybody.”

Funk and his son, Stephen, filed a lawsuit for $50,000 in damages last week in Ventura County Superior Court, accusing a next-door rival, Saul’s Loan and Jewelry, of disrupting Get-Mor’s business.

The suit accuses Saul’s and owner Robert Wademan of trying to intimidate Get-Mor’s customers with insults about the shop and anti-Semitic remarks about the Funks.

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Wademan could not be reached for comment, but his attorney, Mark Santo, said Monday, “My client denies the claims. We’re denying all the allegations.”

The suit also alleges that Wademan and his employees made comments such as “Don’t go in there, they will rip you off.”

The suit accuses Wademan of having employees block Get-Mor’s door, and of putting a loudspeaker next to Get-Mor blasting loud Christmas music.

The suit also says Wademan sent an 18-inch-tall, radio-controlled robot charging at potential Get-Mor customers, its toy speaker warning, “Do not enter; they will rip you off.”

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Inside Saul’s on Monday, business was brisk, customers pawning guns and power tools for cash.

John Wademan, the defendant’s father, said Saul’s is the oldest pawnshop in Ventura County, but he declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Get-Mor and Saul’s existed peacefully side by side on Oxnard Boulevard for nearly 27 years, giving loans to people in exchange for hardware, jewelry and musical instruments, Morris Funk said.

Then in November, 1990, Robert Wademan bought Saul’s from the previous owner, and for the past six months, Saul’s has been trying to interfere with Get-Mor’s business, the suit said.

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“The owner of the old Saul’s Loan, we never had one bad word between the two of us for 26 years,” Funk said amid the chatter of customers negotiating pawn contracts.

He nodded his head at the common wall between Saul’s and Get-Mor.

“And since they’ve been in next door, we’ve had nothing but complaints from customers,” he said. “It is putting a bad image on our industry that we really don’t need.”

Funk said he put off filing suit “for a long time, until the customers started complaining.”

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He said of the alleged slurs, “I’m a very open-minded person. But when it happens two, three, four times, then you’ve got to have a little bit of difficulty with it.”

Last week, Superior Court Judge Richard D. Aldrich signed a restraining order against Wademan and Saul’s.

The order forbids the store or its owner from using its employees, the robot, the loudspeaker or derogatory remarks to hinder potential Get-Mor customers.

One hour after the order was signed, Funk called Oxnard police to report that the order had been violated.

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Funk complained that Wademan stood and watched an employee send the robot rolling around in front of Get-Mor again, police records show. Funk made a citizen’s arrest of Wademan and police confiscated the robot.

On Monday, the Funks summoned police again. This time, he complained that Saul’s employee Joseph Ville was handing out lime-green flyers to passersby in front of Get-Mor.

The flyers offered, “Top price paid on anything of value” at “Saul’s Loan and Jewelry--the Nice Guys.”

A hearing on the Funks’ lawsuit is schedule for March 4 in Superior Court.

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