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Car Auctioneer Accused of Not Paying Owners

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The operator of the defunct Orange County Main Public Auto Auction in Santa Ana has been arrested on charges that he failed to pay off owners who sold their cars on consignment at the Saturday auctions.

Majid Tabibian, 35, was taken into custody Monday and booked into Orange County Jail on a misdemeanor warrant based on charges brought by the state Department of Motor Vehicles. He was released Tuesday on his own recognizance, according to jail officials.

Tabibian could not be reached for comment.

The DMV alleges that Tabibian pocketed at least $50,000 from the sale of 10 autos in the weeks before he folded the auction in January 1995. The actual charges, however, cite only one instance of failure to pay a car seller--the other misdemeanor charges allege failure to transfer title to the new owners.

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“We were hampered in preparing a felony case because these were verbal deals and there just wasn’t any paperwork existing to show that the cars had been placed on consignment,” said DMV investigator Carol Magallanes.

Most of the victims, she said, were used car dealers in the area.

Tabibian, a former Newport Beach resident, now lives in Redondo Beach, Magallanes said.

He opened the auto auction, at 4300 W. Westminster Blvd., in March 1994 and conducted auto auctions every Saturday until he shut down on Jan. 10 of last year, Magallanes said.

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The DMV investigations office in Irvine began receiving complaints about the operation in October 1994, she said.

“It appears that he was running things OK until he got into [financial] trouble at the end,” Magallanes said.

Tabibian took cars in, often on consignment from dealers, sold them at auction to private buyers “and then failed to pay off the old owners, so he never got the titles from them to transfer to the new owners,” Magallanes said.


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