Local News

Owner of bankrupt used car dealership charged with fraud

Posted May 9, 2009 11:08 a.m. EDT
Updated November 25, 2009 7:02 p.m. EST

— The owner of a used car dealership in Raleigh that went bankrupt in mid-April is facing more than two dozen fraud charges after an investigation by the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles' License and Theft Bureau.

Chad Madeen Zuehlke, the owner of Olde Raleigh Motors, was arrested Friday on 27 counts of obtaining property by false pretenses. Zuehlke, 37, of 6217 Battleford Drive, was being held in the Wake County Jail under a $5 million secured bond Saturday. His first court appearance was set for Monday morning.

The warrants allege that Zuehlke defrauded vehicle buyers between July 2008 and March 2009. He failed to pay off loans on vehicles as promised or sold cars with outstanding loans and didn't give the buyer the title to the vehicle, according to the warrants.

The alleged fraud involved loans worth $754,969.87, the warrants say. The vehicles involved ranged from a 2003 Mitsubishi Gallant with an outstanding loan of $6,298, to a 2008 Cadillac Escalade with an outstanding loan of $87,888.

Olde Raleigh Motors, at 6800 Glenwood Ave., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on April 14, according to the Better Business Bureau's Web site. The used car dealership had been open since January 1995 and employed 12 people.

Michael Karaman, of Fayetteville, said that he used a loan and cash to buy a 2005 Mercedes CKL320 from Olde Raleigh Motors on March 21. On April 30, his leinholder, First Citizens Bank, was still waiting to receive the title to the car, Karaman said.

"I paid them for a car expecting a title. ... I have a loan that I don't have a title for. Who is going to pay off what, with what money?" he wrote in an e-mail to WRAL News.

He found out that Olde Raleigh Motors was in bankruptcy only when his daughter drove by the dealership and saw a note on the door, Karaman said.

Karaman expressed skepticism that the dealership ever intended to deal in good trust.

"Chad (Zuehlke) at ORM (Olde Raleigh Motors) had to plan this; you just don't file for bankruptcy overnight," Karaman said. "All of these situations just weren't by accident. ORM intentionally defrauded many people."

“I’m angry, frustrated, (and) don't know where to turn at the moment. This is all coming at me pretty quick this week, and I’m just trying to figure out where to go from here,” said Chris Alberding, another customer of Olde Raleigh Motors.

The BBB has received six customer complaints against Olde Raleigh Motors in the past three years. Three of the complaints stated that the dealership "used dishonest sales practices," according to the BBB's Web site.

The BBB defines dishonest sales practices as "misrepresentation of the product or service, high pressure sales practices, failure to disclose key conditions of the offer, and verbal representations not consistent with contractual terms or agreements."

Five of the complaints were resolved satisfactorily by Olde Raleigh Motors, and one was closed after the company made reasonable efforts but the complainant was still dissatisfied.