Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release -- August 20, 1998.

Dubuque Auto Dealer Ordered to Forfeit Dealer's License

Consumer Protection Division alleged that Robert Frank failed to disclose prior damage to vehicles.

Des Moines -- Robert Frank, a Dubuque auto dealer, has been convicted and sentenced in Dubuque County District Court for failing to inform customers about prior damage to used cars. The charges were filed by the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General's office.

Frank, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced this week in Dubuque County District Court to a Class D Felony of committing a fraudulent practice by completing a false damage disclosure statement in the titling of a motor vehicle. Frank's auto dealership was Cedar Hill Auto Sales of Dubuque.

On Tuesday, District Court Judge Alan Pearson sentenced Frank to up to five years in prison, with the prison term being suspended as long as Frank complies with terms of probation. Frank was ordered by the Court to surrender his motor vehicle dealer's license and is prohibited from applying to the Department of Transportation for another dealer's license.

Bill Brauch, Director of the Consumer Protection Division, said the criminal charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Attorney General's Office and the State Department of Transportation. "Our investigation focused on more than a dozen vehicles that were titled by Cedar Hill Auto Sales without disclosing prior collision damage," Brauch said.

According to documents filed in the case, the criminal charge was based on allegations that Cedar Hill Auto Sales had purchased a damaged 1992 Chrysler at auction from Southern Iowa Salvage Pool in October of 1995. State Farm Insurance Company had obtained the vehicle from its insured after the vehicle had sustained more than $7,000 in collision damage. Cedar Hill Auto Sales repaired the damaged vehicle and, in January of 1996, obtained title to the vehicle without reporting the prior damage as required by Iowa law.

"Buyers are entitled to know about prior damage to vehicles" Brauch said. "The value of a vehicle drops substantially after a major collision. Unsuspecting consumers and even car dealers are often stuck with unsafe or defective vehicles that are worth far less than they paid when damage to the vehicle is concealed."

Customers who wish to file consumer complaints against Cedar Hill Auto Sales of Dubuque may contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Iowa Attorney General's Office at 515-281-5926.