Car Dealerships Fined Over Advertising

For the second time in five years, two Oxnard car dealerships have been ordered to pay fines for allegedly engaging in false and misleading advertising and unlawful business practices.

Superior Court Judge Roland N. Purnell on Monday ordered Mike Wallace Nissan and Mike Wallace Ford to pay more than $100,000 and obey a permanent injunction against those practices.

The Ventura County district attorney's office alleged in a civil suit filed in June 1997 that the dealerships failed to tell buyers that some used cars were former rental cars.

They also claimed the dealers added service agreements and accessories to written contracts without informing customers and failed to submit registration documents and fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 30 days of sale.

Company President Michael H. Wallace said in a statement Monday that a fire and departure of key clerical employees "caused severe disruption in our business and record keeping," but he did not explain how those problems relate to the charges.

The defendants were ordered to pay $70,000 in civil penalties and $20,000 to cover investigative costs. The Ford dealership will pay $15,458 in restitution to customers and Mike Wallace Nissan must pay $5,786.

Monday was not the first time the Wallace dealerships were slapped with a permanent injunction for deceptive business practices.

A 1993 settlement with the district attorney's office resulted in an injunction and $30,000 in fines.

The district attorney's office resumed its investigation of the Oxnard dealerships last June after the injunction was apparently violated.

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