|Pittsfield License Board Suspends Auto Dealer License |
|By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff|
04:51PM / Friday, August 28, 2020
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Licensing Board has suspended D&K Affordable Motors' license for a week for having too many vehicles on the premises and suspicion of forged documentation.
The board voted Monday to suspend the business's annual class II auto dealer license from Aug. 30 to Sep. 5 after a show-cause hearing.
Lt. Randy Stein of the fire prevention bureau said he first visited the 48 Dalton Ave. site in July after it was reported that owner Kaitlyn Rathbun had more than her allotted six cars on the lot, creating a fire hazard.
Stein said he got his hands on the company's paperwork and found some inconsistencies, and it was forwarded to the Police Department.
The paperwork Rathbun submitted to the board earlier this year contained the signature of prior owner of the property Louis Costi.
"On its face, it appears to be forged," Chairman Thomas Campoli said.
Campoli had the actual deed in hand and noted that the owner was actually Jordao's LLC, which purchased the property from Costi in 2019.
Costi was on the call and could confirm this.
"I don't even know these people. I never met them," Costi said. "I certainly did not write a letter."
Rathbun, too, said she had never met Costi and was equally confused.
"I should not be penalized over a mistake that I had no knowledge of," she said. "If I knew this I would have never submitted it."
She said when filling out the paperwork to lease the property, she needed to submit a letter stating that she had permission to do so. She said she primarily worked through a person named Jose who represented the owner while he was out of the country. She said she gave Jose the paperwork so he could get the signature of the owner.
"I don't know who signed the name," she said. "I know I gave the letter to Jose and Jose called me and said it was ready to pick it up."
Rathbun said she did talk to the owner via conference call and did get permission to lease the property. She said for all she knew, Costi was the owner.
Messias Jordao, who was on the call with Rathbun, said he did purchase the property from Costi and did hire this Jose to manage the property while he was out of the country.
Jordao said Jose no longer works for him.
Jordao said he gave Rathbun permission to lease his property and was equally confused.
Campoli said it appears as though Jose wanted to "grease the skids" and make the process happen more quickly.
"The whole thing does not make any sense, and I suspect ... they wanted it to happen quickly so Jose decided he was going to expedite it," Campoli said. "It sounds like he forged his name. That is serious; it is serious for Jose."
The board asked for more information on Jose but Jordao said he did not know his last name or where he lived.
This was not good enough for the board and members said they wanted more accountability.
"This is bothersome to me because no one is taking responsibility for this, and this is a serious incident," board member Kathleen Amuso said. "I don't think they have explained that well, and I am not happy."
The board felt as long as Rathbun had permission from the owner to use the property, the issue could be corrected.
The board then moved on to the actual violation of the permit, and Rathbun said she began leasing another portion of the property. She said she submitted paperwork to modify her site so she could add cars to her lot.
Stein said this is true, but he required more information and did not grant approval. Also, he said it appeared as though Rathbun was using a garage on the property when she was not permitted to do so.
Rathbun said she only uses the garage to clean and detail cars. She added that she has nine cars on-site and thought she had permission to do so.
Richard Stockwell said this was not the case.
"This is not the way we do things here," he said. "You request additional cars and when it is granted you get them. You don't get the cars and then request. You are in violation as we sit now."
Rathbun said it is her first year in business.
"This is my first year in business, and I am trying to do everything correctly," she said. "I didn't know that."
After the vote to suspend, Amuso said she wanted Rathbun to be on their September agenda.
In other business, the board approved an alteration of premises for SoMeLuPe LLC, operating Thistle and Mirth, to expand into the storefront next to the bar on West Street to operate a restaurant. Thistle and Mirth has been closed since the pandemic lockdown in March.
• The board also approved an annual class II auto dealers license for Daniel and Christine Burke of Tamarack Equipment Sales on Tamarack Road. Sales will take place online, and there will be no sales on site. The site will be used to transfer equipment from auction.
• The board also ratified applications approved by Campoli for the temporary extension of premises for outdoor dining for local establishments.