Customers in car limbo after buying from a now closed dealership

The brother of Congressman Troy Balderson is under the microscope, after 20 people filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s office against the dealership. (WSYX/WTTE)

Some customers of a now closed dealership in Zanesville with family ties to Washington politics have been in car limbo after not receiving their titles.

Zanesville police tell ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates they have an open investigation into Balderson Motor Sales. The brother of Congressman Troy Balderson is under the microscope, after 20 people filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s office against the dealership.

Several customers told ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates that they never received their titles and were getting the runaround. Jess Kane is one of the customers who filed a complaint as well as a report with Zanesville police. Kane received the title for her Jeep Liberty with the help from the Ohio Attorney General’s office eight months after she bought it from Balderson Motor Sales.

“I spent a lot of money on it thinking I was going to be okay but not only no title but everything that was wrong with it too so it kind of stinks,” said Kane.

Kane is a mother of two and needs her car to support her family. She was on pins and needles driving to work and back. Kane says the dealership gave her two temporary tags and then expired dealer plates as she questioned the whereabouts of her title.

“I had to miss work a few times because I couldn’t drive without one,” said Kane.

Kane says she couldn’t believe the answer she finally got.

“They were like we’re going to be honest there’s a lien against your car now. I said what,” said Kane.

Zanesville police detective Tom Porter says he has an open investigation into Balderson Motor Sales, specifically Thomas Balderson. Detective Porter says he’s investigating money theft ranging from $600 to $30,000 to deception of titles. Porter says there’s no connection to Troy Balderson in the case.

“I’m thinking what does he think about all of this,” said Kane.

Congressman Troy Balderson sent ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates a statement.

In it, Balderson states that he turned over operational control of the family business to his brother in 2008 upon election to the Ohio State Legislature. He went on to say the business went through a tough period after he left like other small businesses did back then, and that he understands his brother has other issues he is dealing with and fully supports a thorough investigation by the attorney general.

“Tommy should have come forward back in June when they asked him to resolve this faster,” said Bobby Nutter, owner of Nutter Motorsales.

Bobby Nutter says he used to work for the Baldersons in sales and finance. He now has his own dealership where Balderson Motors used to be on Taylor Street. Nutter says he didn’t know about any title problems until this year.

“Not until people started complaining, (when did that happen) um, February,” said Nutter.

Twenty people have filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s office against Balderson Motor Sales and most are about not getting their titles.

“You tend to think you’re at risk when you’re buying from an individual but when you go to a legitimate car lot and buy it and this happens it’s kind of like a kick in your face,” said Carma Ross.

Ross says she used to work at Baldersons in the late 90’s and bought other cars from them without problems until she purchased this truck in January 2016.

“It sits here,” said Ross.

She can’t drive it and still doesn’t have a title more than two years later.

“I am sort of in car limbo right now. I can not sell the truck I can not technically insure the truck because it’s not titled in my name it’s titled in Balderson Motor Sales and I don’t think legally I can drive the truck,” said Ross.

Nutter tells ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates that he was subpoenaed by the attorney general’s office and in July testified about each Balderson title issue in question.

“Trying to get people titles and get their license plates so they can drive their cars that they purchased,” said Nutter.

After stopping by Tom Balderson's home twice and leaving a card, he sent ABC 6 On Your Side Investigates a statement by email. Balderson stated that he’s currently working with the attorney general’s office to resolve all complaints that were filed.

“No one has offered an apology. That’s the one thing, if you’re going to do something that’s wrong at least offer an apology that’s something I have not gotten,” said Kane.

Nutter couldn’t agree more after hearing about their hardships.

“Yeah, I believe they all deserve an apology from him from Tommy because these people worked hard to buy cars and they can’t drive them or couldn’t get license plates for them a lot of them got tickets,” said Nutter.

Nutter says he’s righting a wrong while trying to establish a name for himself.

“I worry about the stigma attached to well you worked for him and now it’s your store you was part I wasn’t part,” said Nutter.

Of the 20 complaints with the AG’s office, seven remain open. No charges have been filed in the case being handled by Zanesville police. The detective on the case says he hopes to wrap up his investigation by mid-October.

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