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New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety
Division of Consumer Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
June 11, 2001
New Jersey Sues Bob Ciasulli Dealerships
Over Alleged Auto Fraud alleges dealerships
cheated hundreds of consumers
NEWARK, NJ - New Jersey is suing 16 Bob Ciasulli auto dealerships in
the largest auto fraud case in State history for allegedly failing to
honor negotiated deals, misrepresenting the true odometer readings on
certain cars; using deceptive bait-and-switch tactics and engaging in
a combined total of at least 35 other fraudulent activities to cheat
consumers in connection with their lease and sales agreements,
Attorney General John J. Farmer and Consumer Affairs Director Mark S.
Herr announced today.
The State's 23-count complaint, filed in Passaic County Superior Court
on Tuesday, names:
Bob Ciasulli Automall, Inc., Route 46 East, Little Falls;
B.C.T. Imports, Inc., and Bob Ciasulli Toyota, Inc., Route 46 East,
Bob Ciasulli Jeep/Eagle, Inc., (also known as Bob Ciasulli
Chrysler/Jeep, Bob Ciasulli Jeep and Bob Ciasulli Chrysler), Route 46
East, Little Falls;
Bob Ciasulli Hyundai, Inc., and Arrow Hyundai, Inc., Route 46 East,
Arrow Auto Imports, Inc., (also known as Bob Ciasulli Mitsubishi),
Route 46 East, Little Falls;
Mack Auto Imports, Inc., (also known as Bob Ciasulli Honda and Mack
Honda), 346 Route 37 East, Toms River;
Mack Dodge, Inc., (also known as Bob Ciasulli Dodge), 314 Route 37
East, Toms River;
Mack Pontiac Cadillac, Inc., Route 37 East, Toms River;
Monmouth American, Inc., and Route 88 Vehicle Corp., (also known as
Monmouth Honda, Monmouth Jeep, Monmouth Jeep/Eagle and Monmouth
Automall),1085 Route 88, Lakewood;
Monmouth Chrysler Plymouth, Inc., 700 Route 36, Eatontown;
M.T. Imports, Inc., (also known as Monmouth Toyota), 750 Route 36,
Universal Global, Inc., (also known as Bob Ciasulli Honda), Route 440
North, Jersey City; and
United Galaxy, Inc., (also known as Bob Ciasulli Lexus), Route 46
East, Little Falls;
The defendant companies are owned, operated and managed by Robert G.
Ciasulli, a Kinnelon resident. Arrow Auto Imports, Inc.; Mack Pontiac
Cadillac, Inc.; and Monmouth Chrysler Plymouth, Inc., are no longer in
"Owning a car is often a necessity in New Jersey, where there is
almost a one-to-one ratio between the more than 6 million registered
vehicles and the driving population," Attorney General Farmer said.
"It is, therefore, important that dealerships operate in a
responsible, honest and forthcoming way so that consumers are not
taken for a ride. When they fail to obey our laws, it's our
responsibility to protect consumers and to ensure that they pay for
and correct their wrongdoings."
"This is the largest auto-related case in State history naming car
dealerships," Herr said. "The prosecution involves more citizen
complaints, more defendants and more allegations of fraud than any
other auto fraud case ever prosecuted in New Jersey. The numbers are
pretty bad, here, but the nature of the frauds involve some of the
most abusive and egregious conduct Consumer Affairs has ever seen or
"The case also could yield more than $2 million in penalties and
$350,000 in restitution," Herr added.
In the last five years, Consumer Affairs has prosecuted and/or
negotiated agreements with 11 dealerships, including: Ramsey Nissan,
Dodge City, Stateline Toyota, Route 22 Auto Sales, Route 22
Automobiles, Inc., Route 22 Nissan, Inc., Autoland, Crystal Auto Mall,
Toms River Lincoln/Mercury/Mazda, Doms Second Chance and Ocean Motors.
The defendants in these cases have paid more than $1.2 million in
penalties, costs and consumer restitution.
"Auto-related complaints make up the No. 1 area of complaints at
Consumer Affairs," Herr said. "We take these complaints seriously and
will do what we must to protect consumers."
The State's suit alleges 42 different types of fraudulent activities
by the 16 dealerships and accuses them of violating the States
Consumer Fraud Act, Used Car Lemon Law, and federal odometer
disclosure laws while selling and leasing a variety of vehicles,
including Lexuses, Hondas, Hyundais, and Toyotas, to New Jersey
To date, 286 consumers have complained to Consumer Affairs since 1995
about the defendants' alleged unlawful activities. The bulk of the
complaints were received between 1997 and 1999 and assert nearly 500
instances involving the fraudulent activities alleged in the State's
The State's suit alleges that the dealerships engaged in a variety of
fraudulent acts, including, among other things:
representing to consumers that certain dealer-installed or
dealer-provided options, known as "after-sell" items, are mandatory,
when, in fact, they are not;
charging consumers for after-sell items that have not been installed;
installing and charging consumers for after-sell items they did not
agree to purchase;
failing to disclose prior damage to vehicles;
misrepresenting to consumers the true and actual odometer reading - or
mileage - on vehicles;
failing to honor advertised or negotiated lease or sales prices and
altering documents after they had already been signed by consumers;
requiring consumers to sign blank documents and to use dealer-arranged
misrepresenting a lease agreement as a sales agreement; and
representing that a used car had one owner when, in fact, it had been
used as a rental car.
For example, a Toms River man bought a 1991 Chevy Beretta from
Monmouth Honda, Lakewood, for $8,318. At the time of purchase, the car
had 9,043 miles on it and an "Odometer Disclosure Statement" given to
him by the dealer also showed that car's mileage as being 9,043. But,
while driving the car home from the dealership, he noticed the
odometer was not working. When he got home, he called the dealer.
"I was told the car was sold to me as is," the consumer said in a
complaint to Consumer Affairs. "When I purchased the car from the
dealer I was never informed of a problem with the odometer."
In fact, the consumer said, the odometer statement he received from
the dealership indicated that the mileage was correct and the section
on the statement where it warns consumers of an odometer discrepancy
was left blank.
"When we investigated this complaint, we contacted the person who
owned the car before and traded the 1991 Beretta for another car at
the Monmouth Honda dealership," Herr said. "She told us that the
dealership knew that there was a problem with the odometer."
The consumer wrote to Consumer Affairs that: "When I traded my Beretta
in, I advised the Bob Ciasulli sales representative and manager ...
that I was not aware of the actual mileage of the car because the
odometer had not been recording mileage since the vehicle was in an
accident and had been repaired. I told them that I estimated the
mileage to be between 57,000 and 67,000 miles."
Based on the discrepancy, the car would have been worth at least
$1,600 less than its $8,300 purchase price, according to the National
Automobile Dealer's Association's "Official Used Car Guide."
"But that's not the worst of it," Herr said. "When we investigated
this consumer's complaint, the dealer tried to cover up the alleged
fraud by providing us with a falsified odometer statement reflecting
that the box warning the consumer of the problem was checked off. The
consumer's copy of the odometer statement, however, showed that the
box was not checked off."
In another case, a Newark man complained that he went to Bob Ciasulli
Lexus in Little Falls in March 1999 to buy a new Lexus and have it
shipped to the Dominican Republic. As part of the arrangement, the man
paid a $5,000 down payment. The dealership was to ship the car abroad.
A couple days later, he said a Ciasulli sales representative told him
they could not ship the car overseas. He later learned that lending
institutions generally do not allow the vehicles they finance to be
taken out of the country. When he requested his $5,000 deposit back,
the salesman allegedly told him it was non-refundable - even though
there was no indication on the retail buyer's order that "no refunds"
were made, the consumer complained.
"I asked them to show me where 'no refunds' was written because I was
sure it was not written on my receipt but I didn't have it on me. So
(the salesman) wrote on his receipt 'no refund' and gave me a copy of
it," the consumer said, adding that he was verbally mistreated by the
salesman and manager who eventually threw him out of the dealership.
"To take his money, renege on the deal and then refuse to refund his
money, are blatant violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, not to
mention human decency," Herr said. "These alleged acts cannot and will
not go unpunished."
Another man complained to Consumer Affairs that he had been defrauded
after he purchased a used Mitsubishi Galant from Bob Ciasulli
Mitsubishi of Little Falls. He made an $8,500 down payment for the
vehicle, the Parsippany man said, based on representations by the
"sales and management team" that the vehicle had only one previous
"The management further stressed that the vehicle was never involved
in any kind of accident and that their service department checks for
proper mechanical, electrical and safe engine functionality," the
Six days after be began driving the car, it died. The consumer then
learned from a service log at Mitsubishi Motors that the car had had
frequent alternator problems and that it had been owned by a car
The consumer also complained that he learned that the car had been
involved in an accident and "as pointed out by another dealer, the
assembly was so bad that they did not even put the dash board and
steering assembly to safety standards"
The State's complaint seeks an order barring the defendants from
breaking state and federal consumer protection laws; requiring them to
pay civil monetary penalties of up to $7,500 for the first violation
of the Consumer Fraud Act and up to $15,000 for each and every
subsequent violation; assessing costs and attorneys fees and requiring
them to pay restitution to affected consumers.
Deputy Attorney General David M. Puteska of the Division of Law is
handling this case for the State.