BANGOR, Maine — The owner of My Maine Ride on Thursday pleaded no contest through his attorney to 28 of 83 counts of using fake inspection stickers and paid a $7,000 fine.
Glenn A. Geiser Jr., 48, of Brewer, who owns the My Maine Ride dealership in Bangor, was not required to show up at the Penobscot Judicial Center. His attorney, Eugene Sullivan of Bangor, entered the pleas on his behalf and gave the court a check for $8,960, which included fees and surcharges added to the fine.
Maine Superior Court Justice William Anderson accepted the plea agreement between Geiser and the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office, which called for the remaining 55 counts of use of counterfeit inspection certificates to be dropped.
No contest pleas result in convictions.
Geiser faced up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 on each count.
After the criminal matter was resolved, Sullivan made a statement on behalf of his client outside the courthouse.
“The facts show that these were actual certificates of inspection,” the attorney said. “We wanted to make that very clear. Where the vehicles were serviced was where the technical violations occurred in this case. The inspection stickers were not issued in accordance with the law and, Mr. Geiser, my client, accepts responsibility for this.
“The facts of this case show that no inspection stickers were ever placed on unsafe or uninspected vehicles,” Sullivan said. “The facts show that the technicians at My Maine Ride inspected all of the vehicles at issue to ensure public safety.”
Geiser’s license to inspect vehicles was under suspension last year when he illegally purchased inspection stickers from an auto shop in Winterport and put them on cars he sold at his dealership, according to a previously published report.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Thursday that Geiser deserved the fine imposed by Anderson.
“The thing about this is that car dealers have a hard enough time trying to keep a good reputation,” Almy, who prosecuted Geiser, said outside the courthouse. “There’s plenty of good car dealers out there. Then, you get a guy like this, it just makes it worse for them. For what he did, he deserves to pay a big fat fine, and if convicted of [other] criminal offenses, he should go to jail. It’s just not fair for the rest of the car dealers in the area.”
Sullivan said that Geiser will not contest the 180-day suspension of his license to sell cars. The suspension will go into effect March 1.
“The [dealer] plates and license must be surrendered to the [secretary of state] no later than Feb. 28 as the administrative suspension shall become effective on March 1, 2014 or earlier if the SOS receives the plates and license earlier,” Joanne Baumrind, the hearing officer handling Geiser’s case, said Thursday in an email.
Geiser was fighting the six-month suspension issued to him by Garry R. Hinkley, director of the secretary of state’s vehicle services division, on Dec. 20, according to a previously published report. It was to go into effect on Jan. 6, but Geiser sought a review.
He and his attorney, Joseph Baldacci of Bangor, appeared Feb. 10 for a hearing scheduled before Joanne Baumrind of the secretary of state’s office at the DMV office at the Airport Mall. That hearing was continued until Wednesday, Feb. 26, so Baldacci could review more discovery material.
That hearing has been cancelled, Patty Morneault, director of the Department of Motor Vehicles, said in an email early Thursday.
The secretary of state suspended Geiser’s used car dealer license and his dealer plates because the state determined he was “defrauding a retail buyer to the buyer’s disadvantage,” Hinkley’s letter states. “Specifically, My Maine Ride sold cars with counterfeit inspection stickers.”
In a separate action, Geiser is being sued by Attorney General Janet T. Mills for alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices. Mills wants a permanent injunction to bar Geiser and any entity in which he has an ownership interest from promoting, selling or financing used cars.
The attorney general’s complaint, filed Jan. 31 against Geiser, alleges that he and his dealerships, Bangor Car Care Inc., Bumper2Bumper Inc. and My Maine Ride, targeted consumers with poor credit who needed financing, pressured them to buy cars that were not roadworthy and did not respond to customer complaints, according to a press release issued Feb. 7 by Mills’ office.
The Consumer Protection Division of Mills’ office has received 86 complaints in the last 13 months about My Maine Ride, 159 complaints about Bumper2Bumper since 2011, and 539 complaints about Bangor Car Care since 2003.
The state is seeking civil penalties, which could run as high as $10,000 for each violation; a permanent injunction to bar Geiser and any entity in which he has an ownership interest from promoting, selling and-or financing used cars and reimbursement of the cost of the litigation, including attorney and expert witness fees.
“Targeting vulnerable people and duping them into buying cars that are not safe not only defrauds the consumer but puts every person traveling our roads at risk,” Mills said in the release. “We intend to put a stop to it.”
In addition to the scrutiny from various state regulators, Geiser owes $9,000 in overdue fines to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration for workplace safety violations in 2012 and 2013, according to information obtained from the agency.
For information on making a consumer complaint concerning the purchase of a vehicle, visit http://www.maine.gov/ag/consumer/motor_vehicles/index.shtml or call 626-8800.