A Bay Ridge car dealership will have to pay more than $500,000 in penalties now that a state judge has ruled that the business bilked several customers.
Judge Bernard J. Graham ordered John Giuffre’s automobile empire — which runs four car dealerships in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst — to reimburse 46 of its former customers $294,500, as well as $215,500 in civil fines.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused Giuffre of lying to buyers about the contracts they were signing, as well as hitting purchasers with unwanted accessories and strong-arming people into signing blank contracts — actions that Schneiderman claims left Giuffre’s would-be victims in the poor house.
“Consumers found themselves owing more than they ever would have knowingly agreed to pay,” Schneiderman said.
The attorney general cobbled a case against Giuffre, which many community residents call a major Bay Ridge employer and philanthropist, after several customers came forward and claimed that they had been hoodwinked.
Schneiderman claimed that Giuffre salesmen played these illegal practices on immigrants and seniors, steps Judge Graham found reprehensible when he announced his decision.
“Each person wound up owning a car that they never intended to buy or a price that was dishonestly represented to them,” Graham said in his decision as he directed the dealership to reach out to the victims banks and lenders to try to get the victims’ credit scores restored.
Calls to Giuffre for comment were not returned by our midnight deadline.