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We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

Auto Center to Refund Minnesota Police

A Minnesota state audit found that dozens of police departments were double billed for standard items such as spotlights and heated mirrors that were to be included in squad car purchases.

Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 60 second form.

A television media investigation exposed the scandal, which led to more than $800,000 to be refunded to more than 200 police departments across the state. The vehicles were sold from Nelson Auto Center, a car dealership located in Fergus Falls, Minn., that contracted with the state.

The audit found taxpayers were overcharged on 3,225 vehicles on sales dating back to 2010.

“We went through line item by line item and so that was pretty painstaking,” said Minnesota Department of Administration Assistant Commissioner Curt Yoakum. “Obviously the biggest surprise was that someone had the audacity to try overcharging law enforcement.”

Gerry Worner, Nelson Auto’s former fleet manager, was charged in July with five counts of theft by swindle. Worner denies the charges.

The auto company’s owners are not facing charges and say they were not aware there were any overcharges. Despite the company’s corporation with investigators, the Minnesota Department of Administration stripped Nelson Auto of its $15 million-a-year contract to sell Ford SUV’s to law enforcement agencies.

The investigation also revealed problems with the oversight of purchases made through state contracts, with records showing the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety failing to investigate accusations from a whistleblower and overage reports

Matt Massman, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Administration, said in response his office has initiated new fraud prevention policies including hiring a compliance expert to review other state contracts.

“We want to make sure we’re putting the resources on it to get this right – and frankly to deter any potential vendor from doing something similar on another state contract,” Massman said.

The whistleblower, a private citizen with both a law enforcement and vehicle purchasing background, shared the tip with reporters in March 2017. He said back in 2015 he discovered the St. Paul Police Department had been overcharged for spotlights and heated mirrors on some of their squad cars.

With the information, St. Paul officials demanded a refund and Nelson Auto cut a check paying back more than $13,000.

Suspecting other departments might have also been overcharged, the whistleblower provided the information to the state agency which oversees the contract. Two years later, with the state agency sill not pursuing the case, the whistleblower contacted the media.

Lemon law attorneys help their clients by dealing directly with the manufacturer on the clients’ behalf, working to promptly resolve the issue and get their clients back on the road. Thanks to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, attorneys can seek their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning a client can obtain legal counsel without having to pay attorneys’ fees directly out of pocket.


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