State objects to fees owners being charged to get cars back

Staff photo by DAMIEN FISHER One of the several garage doors at Dusty Old Cars on Airport Road.The company's warehouse contains close to 400 vehicles.

NASHUA – New Hampshire’s Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office wants the trustee in the Dusty Old Cars bankruptcy case to stop charging people $1,000 to get their cars back.

Dusty Old Cars, the classic car dealership with a warehouse on Airport Road, is being liquidated by the trustee appointed by the United States Bankruptcy Court in Manchester, Michael Askenaizer. Askenaizer was initially hired to manage the business through a chapter 11 restructuring, but petitioned the court to liquidate the business after owner, Stephan Condodemetraky, allegedly destroyed business records making it impossible to operate the company, according to court records.

More than 100 people have filed formal complaints with the AGs office about the business, mostly people who entered into contracts with Condodemetraky to consign their cars through him. The complaints against Condodemetraky run the gamut from being charged for bogus repairs to their cars, to not getting paid at all after the cars were supposedly sold. Some consignors have said that Condodemetraky forged signatures in order to get the titles to their cars before the vehicles disappeared.

Since getting the court’s permission to liquidate the business, Askenaizer has started an attempt to give people back their cars in exchange for a $1,000 fee to cover expenses. While the state is happy to see people are getting their vehicles back, it objects to the fee being charged.

“(I)n light of the past sharp treatment of consumers by the debtor the State believes that the fee schedule proposed by the Chapter 7 Trustee is excessive, unreasonable, and arbitrary when applied to the vehicles still in inventory at the business,” a motion filed by the AG’s office states.

Last week, the Telegraph reported that some customers were being asked to pay to get their cars back after reportedly already losing tens of thousands of dollars to Condodemetraky.

“We are all filled with anguish, disgust, resentment and bitterness,” said Jeffrey Maniff, a Massachusetts man who had 10 cars taken by Dusty Old Cars. “So asking us to now pay for whatever is left that we can salvage and walk away with is sinful and completely in bad taste.”

The AG’s motion says that Askenaizer has not filed any documentation to show why the fees he is charging are necessary to the liquidation process.

“His motion does not explain how he reached the number he did and whether the expenses of preserving and protecting the vehicles during the Chapter 7 Trustee’s relatively brief control of the assets justify the fees,” the motion states.

A hearing is scheduled in the case on Thursday, April 27 in the bankruptcy court in Manchester.