|Pittsfield Dealership Surrenders License After Forgery Accusation|
|By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff |
07:43PM / Monday, April 25, 2022
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local car dealership has surrendered its license after being accused of forgery for the second time in two years.
Licensing Board Chairman Thomas Campoli reported Monday that D&K Affordable Motors had opted to surrender its dealership license rather than re-appear before the board with documentation supporting a claim of identity fraud.
A show cause hearing for the dealership in March on accusations it had tried to register another dealership under the same license had been continued to this date. The board requested banking documents and records from the two involved parties: manager Kaitlyn Rathbun and her employee and partner Devon Fitts.
They had tried to say someone may have stolen their information to set up the dealership.
Earlier this month, the attorney who represented Rathbun and Fitts at the hearing notified the board that he will no longer be representing them and just a few days later, the license was surrendered.
"At that hearing we heard a fraudulent alteration with D&K's license that was illegally used to obtain [federal Paycheck Protection Program] funding for a non-existent automobile dealership managed by Devon Fitts, that's what the documents said, that same altered license that was fraudulently altered was submitted to AuctionACCESS,” Campoli said.
"At that hearing, [Pittsfield Police Sgt. Marc Maddalena] testified before the Pittsfield Licensing Board, and the licensee of D&K was represented by counsel, attorney William Martin, who raised the specter that Mr. Fitts may have been the victim of identity fraud.
"There was no substantive evidence that was put before the board to verify that. However, we gave the licensee the opportunity to come back to see us today."
Campoli said Martin emailed the board on April 11 that he no longer represented D&K and on April 14, Rathbun surrendered the license.
D&K Affordable Motors had a Class 2 license with the number 297 for its premises at 48 Dalton Ave. issued in 2020. As it appears, Fitts submitted the same license to AuctionACCESS — an online credentialing system for dealers — for Young's Auto Sales at 111 W Housatonic St., which is a vacant lot.
Fitts also applied for and received $19,700 in PPP loans for being the sole proprietor of a dealership at 111 W Housatonic St., the same address of the business that attempted to register with D&K's valid license.
Both situations were attributed to identity fraud after Fitts reportedly had his wallet and other documents stolen.
The situation was investigated by the Pittsfield Police before the hearing and they did not believe it was a matter of identity theft.
Maddalena was under the impression that obtaining a new license under a new dealership would allow D&K to have a clean history so they are able to visit auction sites to purchase vehicles after having financial difficulties.
He added that in 24 years on the job he has not seen identity theft used to open a car dealership, as it is usually for cashing checks and opening accounts.
The case has been sent to the attorney general for further investigation.
In other news, a new gaming center called Boosted Lounge was granted a seasonal wine and malt on-premise liquor license for its facility in the Allendale Shopping Center.
Owner Ryan Senecal opened the lounge in mid-March as a haven for fans of esports. It has 36 computer stations for gaming and more.
"It's essentially competitive gaming,” He explained to the board.
"Our end goal is to have things like Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday league nights, just like a bowling league, except instead of bowling you're playing game one and then Wednesday we'll be playing game two, but that's essentially the long-term goals here.”
The lounge's hours were previously noon to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and noon to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Senecal requested permission to serve beer after 6 p.m.
There was some concern from the board about the late-night weekend hours and the operating hours were scaled back to 1 a.m.
Because the board had never handled the issuance of a license for a gaming lounge there were questions about the age requirements and how Senecal will ensure that no underage patrons are served.
Anyone under the age of 13 has to be accompanied by an adult to go to the lounge.
Board member Dennis Powell said it is a situation similar to a bowling alley and board member Kathy Amuso agreed.