OXNARD : Car Dealer Agrees to $12,000 in Fines

Two Oxnard car dealerships, charged two years ago with making several false and misleading claims in advertisements, have agreed to pay state fines of almost $6,000 each, the state Department of Motor Vehicles announced Thursday.

Without admitting any wrongdoing, Mike Wallace Ford, formerly known as Pacific Coast Ford, and Pacific Coast Nissan will pay $5,000 fines, plus $962 apiece in investigative costs, according to the department's Bureau of Investigation.

The North Oxnard Boulevard dealerships, which are both owned by Oxnard businessman Mike Wallace, will pay the fines instead of closing their doors for five days--an alternative penalty recommended.

The state action stems from a series of consumer complaints and bureau investigations from 1990 through 1993, state investigator Richard Cathcart said.

The Ventura County district attorney's office also fined the dealerships over the identical dispute, which was resolved in 1993, said Kent M. Kellegrew, the Oxnard attorney representing the two dealerships.

"What's happening is the DMV has seen this as a revenue-making opportunity," Kellegrew said. "We did not admit to committing any of these acts. We resolved it as a business decision to avoid the litigation and the bad publicity."

The state made nine separate allegations against one or both of the dealerships including that the dealership represented a used vehicle as new, failed to identify vehicles as used and advertised misleading credit terms.

Supervising Investigator Dominic Bartolone noted the state's action is separate from the county's. "It's a lengthy process that can take two or three years before it's settled," he said.

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