NEWARK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) - New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman announced a $1.8 million settlement on Monday with eight auto dealerships and their owners to resolve allegations of deceptive sales tactics.
Carmelo and Ignazio Giuffre, the owners of eight auto dealerships, allegedly failed to disclose existing mechanical defects or past damage to used cars, failed to honor the negotiated or advertised prices for vehicles and charged for supplemental warranties and other after-sale items without customer consent.
Hoffman's Division of Consumer Affairs alleged that the actions taken by the dealerships violated a settlement Carmelo and Ignazio Giuffre and some of the dealerships reached with the state in 1999. In that settlement, the Giuffres, Route 22 Toyota, Route 22 Honda and Route 22 Nissan agreed to pay $450,000, which included $250,000 as a compensatory fund for consumers. The settlement resolved allegations of similar deceptive practices by the dealerships.
Under the terms of the new settlement, the defendants must pay $1.8 million, including $1,733,059 in civil penalties and $66,941 to reimburse attorney costs. The defendants must also work to resolve the complaints of 45 consumers who filed complaints with the Division of Consumer Affairs. Additionally, the Giuffres and the dealerships must hire a state-approved compliance monitor for two years.
The dealerships involved in the settlement were Freehold Chrysler Jeep Inc., doing business as Freehold Chrysler Jeep; Freehold Automotive LTD Inc., doing business as Freehold Hyundai; Hudson Auto Sales Inc., doing business as Hudson Honda; Hackettstown Auto Sales Inc., doing business as Hackettstown Honda; Hillside Automotive Inc., doing business as Route 22 Kia; Route 22 Nissan Inc., doing business as Route 22 Nissan; Route 22 Automobiles Inc., doing business as Route 22 Honda; and Route 22 Auto Sales Inc., doing business as Route 22 Toyota.