MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Department of Motor Vehicles Commission has issued a suspension of the dealership licenses for two Rutherford County car dealerships.
Two locations of Nashville Motor Cars in Murfreesboro and Smyrna had their licenses revoked after the owner, Randall Roth, allegedly shut down both car lots without warning.
Customers and workers showed up to find both car lots empty a little over a week ago.
Dozens have complained that the owner failed to issue titles to vehicles, pay off loans on trade-ins, and vehicles which were on consignment are now missing.
As of Monday morning, 24 customers had filed complaints with the state and about 60 have filed incidents reports for fraud with Murfreesboro police.
Commission chairman Eddie Roberts called it a sad day for Tennessee consumers.
“It’s just a shame and a tragedy to think about the amount of damage done to Tennessee consumers allegedly done by this former licensee,” Roberts said.
Commission members say Roth has seemingly disappeared. He did not show up at the emergency meeting at the David Crockett Building in Nashville where the meeting about the license suspensions was held.
“This appears to be an urgent matter of great concern and potential risk to the consuming public,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Executive Director Paula Shaw.
State law requires auto dealers to take out a surety bond, which is only $50,000.
“The number of alleged complaints that we have at this time will far exceed that amount,” Shaw said.
LaKeea Jefferson traded her car for a Ford 500. She paid $5,000 cash, and four months later, still no title.
She doesn’t even know if the tag was changed over from her old vehicle.
“I feel it’s not right because I’ve basically spent all my money that I had saved up to get a car and now I don’t have the proper information for it,” Jefferson told News 2.
This is not the first time the DMV has taken action against Roth.
In 2013. he had to pay a civil penalty of $1,500 for failing to endorse the certificate of title into a buyer’s name or obtain registration, and hiring an unlicensed salesperson.
In 2014, a $15,000 civil penalty was levied for failure to deliver a title and not responding to the commission, as well as a $1,500 civil penalty for failing to pay off the lien on a vehicle in a timely matter.
A formal hearing is scheduled for July 13 for the commission to consider revocation.
Commission members say stronger action could be ahead for Roth.
Murfreesboro police is the lead investigative agency. State investigators are working closely with them and said if there is a criminal violation, it will be up to Murfreesboro police to file charges.