The operator of Mr. Don's Transmission shop at 7310 Van Nuys Blvd. was arrested this week and charged with grand theft, forgery and other crimes in connection with alleged consumer swindles, authorities said.
Donald Robert Wachter, 37, of Canyon Country, could serve about four years if convicted of the charges. Wachter posted $25,000 bail and will be arraigned April 16, said Deputy City Atty. Mark Lambert.
Wachter was investigated after officials of the state Bureau of Automotive Repair received two complaints last summer about his business.
The first complaint was filed by a Calabasas woman who alleged that Wachter performed unauthorized transmission work on her 1993 Mazda Protege, according to authorities. She said Wachter refused to return her car until she paid him $3,000.
During the bureau's investigation, Lambert said Wachter showed officials a forged invoice as proof the woman had authorized the work.
The second complaint was filed by a Reseda man who alleged that Wachter charged him for a totally rebuilt transmission, only to find out later at another shop that the transmission was used, officials said.
Lambert said that during an investigation, Wachter produced a fabricated receipt for a rebuilt transmission.
In addition, Wachter was charged with obstructing a peace officer.
"We charged him with that because he wasted the investigator's time by supplying him with false documents," Lambert said.
Wachter, who has owned the business for the past 13 years, maintained his innocence Friday.
"They are all false charges," he said from his shop. "The Bureau of Automotive Repair has been out to get me for years."
Wachter said the Calabasas woman had authorized the work on her car, but became argumentative when she found out he did not accept personal checks. Wachter said the woman refused to pay and called the police.
He said he plans to plead not guilty.
"I've done honest work in this neighborhood for years," Wachter said. "I'm not going to let these false charges bring me down."