Car sale stalled in dealership’s legal mess

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 1, 2004

[10/30/04]Another Vicksburg couple is caught in a quagmire with the local car dealership whose new vehicles were seized after it was named in a civil lawsuit.

“This is the biggest mess,” said Linda Walton. “It’s unbelievable.”

Walton bought a Mitsubishi Outlander SUV from River City Mitsubishi Hyundai in March and financed the loan through BankOne, but still has no title.

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John Thames Jr. is listed as a principle of the dealership.

“Automotive Finance Corporation paid Mitsubishi for the vehicle and they put it on Thames’ lot,” Walton said. “When we bought the vehicle we had it financed through BankOne, and they, in turn, paid Thames for it, but Thames never paid AFC for it.”

That leaves AFC with the title and Walton without the title of the vehicle she drives.

“This is not right,” she said. “My husband says, We’re paying for a vehicle we’re not going to own.”

Without the title, Walton cannot apply for insurance or car tags.

In August, nearly all of the new vehicles on the lot at 4075 Pemberton Square Blvd. were taken on a Warren County Circuit Court order of replevin.

AFC claims that the dealership has a balance of $1 million on two loans that totaled $2 million. The defendant in the suit is listed as Thames Autoplex Inc., Vicksburg Motor Company, River City Mitsubishi Hyundai and River Autoplex Inc.

Thames has said he sold the complex last year and purchased it again in July. He did not return a call about Walton’s claim Friday.

Another Vicksburg couple, Joey and Valerie Arnold, 102 Michael Lane, test drove a car from the dealership in July. When they returned, their car had been towed. They were left without a vehicle after the Ford Escape they had driven was towed from their home. The Warren County Sheriff’s Department has received several complaints about the dealership, said Detective Jay McKenzie, chief of enforcement.

He said his office is working with other law enforcement agencies and state prosecutors in a criminal investigation. Spokesman for the Vicksburg Police Department, the District Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office confirmed Friday representatives of those offices would meet with the sheriff’s office next week on the investigation.

“We are all looking into the matter at River City Mitsubishi,” McKenzie said. “We will decide what direction, if any direction, to proceed.”

The Waltons have hired an attorney, but remain unsure of the outcome.

“What’s going to happen to us, and what’s going to happen to our vehicle?” Walton said.