NH Supreme Court Says Tow Company Can’t Keep Cars

By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org

A towing company connected to a former car dealer convicted of stealing from customers tried to keep the cars it towed but was rebuffed by the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

According to the court ruling, Tradz LLC tried to keep 10 cars it towed from various locations, claiming that the vehicles were abandoned. When the New Hampshire Department of Motor Vehicles denied the Tradz request for titles, Tradz appealed, and was denied and then brought the case to the Supreme Court, which ruled against the company earlier this month.

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Tradz is listed in Secretary of State records as being managed by George Condodemetraky, the father of Stephan Condodemetraky, the former owner of the now defunct Dusty Old Cars.

Stephan Condodemetraky is currently facing criminal charges for allegedly taking several cars from the Toyota of Nashua lot last year, as part of a Tradz LLC operation, according to Nashua police. He was also convicted in 2019 for stealing from a customer of his former dealership, Dusty Old Cars.

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Michael Garrity, a spokesman for New Hampshire General John Formella, said Attorney last week Stephan Condodemetraky is also being investigated by the Department of Justice, though he declined to provide details.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, in early 2020, Tradz took six of the cars as part of a repossession process for the lienholders. Tradz then tried to keep the cars after employees brought them to the company towing lot. Three of the cars were taken from a car dealership lot in Concord under unexplained circumstances.

“DMV’s title bureau testedified that, after investigating the removal of these vehicles, the DMV confirmed that the property owner did not order the tow.” Similarly, the DMV’s representative director testedified that the dealership’s regional sales manager denied that anyone at the dealership requested the petition to tow the vehicles. The deputy director further testified that, according to the sales manager, the dealership “exclusively uses” another company for towing services. In addition, the deputy director testedified that the DMV was unable to determine “how [the petitioner] came into lawful possession of those vehicles,” the ruling states.

The last car was taken from the property of a Massachusetts woman. Tradz claimed that she asked for her car to be towed away, and that it was abandoned, something the DMV disputes.

“The petitioner argues that the vehicle owner abandoned the vehicle on her own property and that the bureau’s decision with respect to this vehicle was premised upon a flawed assumption: that a person cannot abandon his or her own vehicle on his or her own property,” the ruling states.

Attorneys for Tradz did not respond to a request for comment.

Stephan Condodemetraky’s original used car empire, which he boasted as growing at 30 percent a year, fell apart starting in 2016 when he was placed under investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office for allegedly defrauding consignment customers at Dusty Old Cars.

He was indicted in three different superior courts on various theft and forgery charges and went to trial in Merrimack and Rockingham courts.

Dusty Old Cars customers started filing complaints with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office as far back as 2015, with more than 100 people eventually seeking redress from the state. The classic car dealership’s consignment of alleged customers that Dusty Old Cars took their cars and charged them for bogus repair and other fraudulent fees, and sometimes did not pay at all when the consigned cars sold.

While there were numerous complaints, the state has not had much success in prosecuting Stephan Condodemetraky.

In March of 2019, he was found guilty of one theft in the Rockingham Superior Court and charged to 48 hours in jail and barred from going into other retail car businesses in New Hampshire. Stephan Condodemetraky appealed the conviction, but the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled against him last year, upholding the conviction.

He was found not guilty in November of 2019 on 20 charges of fraud and forgery in Merrimack Superior Court.

Stephan Condodemetraky filed for bankruptcy in 2017 as the criminal and civil cases were swirling around his business. The court appointed a trustee to oversee liquidation of the business, Nashua based attorney Michael Askenaizer, eventually filed a lawsuit against Stephan Condodemetraky on behalf of the creditors, accusing the former used car king of running a multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Askenaizer states in his lawsuit filed in United States Bankruptcy Court that Stephan Condodemetraky took in money from loans and investors despite the fact Dusty Old Cars had been insolvent as a business as far back as 2013.

“Condodemetraky directed the operation of the business of Dusty Old Cars … and controlled and manipulated its books and records in such a way as to hide the losses incurred and to allow him to extract millions of dollars from creditors with no expectation, nor realistic way, of paying back that was taken.”

At the same time, Stephan Condodemetraky was taking in money from investors in his businesses based on the false financials he kept, according to the lawsuit. Each new investor’s money was used to pay off previous investments, according to the lawsuit, while the business allegedly duped customers out of their cars, Askenaizer stated in the lawsuit.

“Mr. Condodemetraky knew, or should be treated as knowing, that the business model was defective, that the sole purpose of the business was to create a fa├žade of success that he could use to induce customers and lenders to provide him with money or things of value on the promise of repayment with extraordinary returns, but with no actual prospect or intent of repaying them,” the lawsuit states. Mr. Condodemetraky used the flow of money and vehicles that came to him by virtue of the unrealistic promises of extraordinary returns or of a better price, to enrich himself through shareholder distributions, inflated salary, and the payment of household expenses by the company. “

Askenaizer eventually settled with Stephan Condodemetraky in the Bankruptcy Court in 2018 over the fraud lawsuit. Despite seeking close to $5 million in the case, the parties settled for $110,000.


This story was originally published by InDepth NH.

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