Johnson suspends license of Cadillac, MI auto dealer

MARCH 10, 2011Image: Consumer Protection

Direct Auto & Truck previously had been cited for multiple violations

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced that she has suspended the license of Direct Auto & Truck, which had been on probation since April 2010, because the dealership's owner refused department investigators access to sales and other records.

The used-car dealership at 8960 E. 34 Road in Cadillac had been under a 2-year probation agreement because of 28 admitted record keeping, and title and registration application violations. Direct Auto's owner, Christine Brooks, now will have an administrative hearing about the suspension and whether to revoke her auto dealer license.

"Most auto dealers are reputable business people, but if we find one has started violating the law, we will take swift action to safeguard consumers," Johnson said. "As secretary of state, I will hold violators accountable for their actions and ensure they aren't able to prey on Michigan residents."

The suspension prohibits Brooks from buying, selling, offering for sale or dealing in vehicles and used parts.

In addition to the dealer license suspension, the Michigan State Police Brighton Post is investigating criminal fraud complaints against Christine Brooks' husband, Randy Brooks Sr., who ran the dealership with her.

Since the dealership was put on probation, the department received three new complaints alleging the dealer failed to pay off liens on vehicles that were traded in and also sold vehicles with fraudulent lien termination statements. A department staff person tried to review records to investigate the complaints but was denied access to them, which is grounds for summary suspension of a dealer license. Direct Auto's probation agreement specified that the department would inspect the dealership one or more times during the first year of the agreement.

In at least one auto sale, a consumer purchased a vehicle warranty through Direct Auto, but the warranty was never activated by the dealership, a department investigator found.

Brooks received her dealer license for Direct Auto on Feb. 7, 2005, and since then, the department has received 26 complaints about the dealership. Consumer complaints and the ensuing dealership inspection resulted in the dealership's 2-year probation.

Consumers who have a complaint against Direct Auto & Truck are encouraged to call the Department of State Information Center at (888) SOS-MICH (767-6424).

For more information about dealership licensing and how to file a complaint against a dealer, visit the Secretary of State website at www.Michigan.gov/sos.

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For media questions, please call Randall Thompson at 517-373-2520.