Local News

DMV: Used Car Dealer Didn't Give Titles to Buyers

Posted December 17, 2007 11:00 p.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2007 6:34 a.m. EST

— The former owner of a used car dealership in Garner faces criminal charges after failing to deliver vehicle titles and registrations to at least 12 buyers.

Donald Wayne Smith, the previous owner of Auto X-Sales, was charged with collecting taxes and title and registration fees from customers and never handing over the documents. At least 12 people complained of such situations.

Investigators said a finance company that the car dealership owed money has been holding the titles and registrations.

Without those documents, customers cannot legally drive the vehicles they bought.

Lewis Cotten said he paid Smith $17,352.62 for his fully loaded, dream truck, but it's been sitting in his driveway for over a month. All the while, Cotten, said he has been responsible for keeping up with payments on the truck.

"If I get out on the road and drive this vehicle, it's possible I can get pulled. And if I get pulled and don't show them my registration card, I lose my license," Cotten said.

"I had to borrow a car. It's frustrating, very frustrating," he added.

Smith spoke to WRAL by phone on Monday night. He said he got himself into a bad situation with his business and is doing his best to remedy the situation. For now, he said, all he can offer customers is an apology.

New ownership has taken over Auto X-Sales.

Department of Motor Vehicles official said they will turn the case over to the state Attorney General's Office. In the meantime, the DMV will work to get temporary tags for the customers so they can drive their vehicles.

"I'll be satisfied when I can drive the truck," Cotten said.

Smith was released from jail after posting a $36,000 bond.