From the Litchfield County Times, June 7, 2007, by Laurel Tuohy
SALISBURY-It seems the legal problems have not subsided for a Lime Rock garage that specialized in the sale and repair of antique sports cars and luxury automobiles.
Paradise Garage, which sits opposite the Lime Rock Park racetrack, is out of business and its owner, Arthur Glen Kurrus, is being prosecuted by state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on behalf of the state, six named complainants and Jerry Farrell Jr., the state Commissioner of Consumer Protection.
In addition to the half-dozen complainants, one of whom is noted author and socialite Carolyne Roehm of Sharon, there have been numerous other complaints by people who were not named in the suit, according to Mr. Blumenthal.
Of the six parties named in Ex-Parte Prejudgment Remedy documents filed April 27 in Hartford Superior Court, some of the complaints have already been satisfied financially. However, Mr. Blumenthal said, “He may have resolved some of the complaints but he still has broken the law and is liable for fines, penalties and other sanctions. There are individuals who still have outstanding claims against him.”
Mr. Kurrus-who does not own the building that housed Paradise Garage-also operated as Evolution Motor Sports LLC out of the same building and, between the two named businesses, has been accused of 10 counts that include the following: selling cars on consignment and not paying the owners or informing them of sales or purchase prices; refusing to return cars that had not been sold; positioning himself as the owner of vehicles during sales; demanding payment for repairs that were not authorized and, in some cases, not performed; turning back the odometer on at least one car to fetch a higher sales price; misrepresenting cars to buyers, and misrepresenting sales prices to the Department of Motor Vehicles to avoid paying taxes. Many of these alleged actions violate the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.
The cars Mr. Kurrus dealt with were not typical used cars. Vintage Ferraris, Porsches and Austin Healeys that would impress even James Bond-types came and went regularly from his showroom, and prices routinely passed the $50,000 mark and headed toward six figures.
Mr. Kurrus’ legal problems began in 2001 when he took a 1967 Austin Healey on consignment from Woodbury resident Brad Del Sorbo. About four months later, Mr. Del Sorbo attempted to cancel the agreement but Mr. Kurrus refused to return the car, according to the court documents.
During the time, the court documents say, Mr. Kurrus had the car he made unauthorized repairs to it, turned back the odometer almost 50,000 miles, falsely advertised the car and sold it to James Bebon of Easton for $42,000, though the state Department of Motor Vehicles paperwork reflects that only $2,500 changed hands for the vintage car-which sent up red flags and began an investigation into Paradise. Mr. Bebon later returned the car to Mr. Kurrus, who resold to James O’Brien, of New Jersey.
The lawsuit states that, “As a result of [Mr.] Kurrus’ actions, he was arrested on charges of larceny, odometer fraud, and title fraud. [Mr.] Kurrus subsequently pled guilty to a reduced charge of interference with an officer and paid Del Sorbo $32,000 pursuant to a plea agreement.”
Simon Pinniger of Aspen, Col., and Ms. Roehm made two more claims against Mr. Kurrus’ business practices in 2003 and 2004.
One of the most interesting claims against Mr. Kurrus came from John Laramore of Danville, Va., who delivered a 1964 Porsche to be sold on commission in November 2006.
Under the agreement, the car was not to leave the garage for any reason unless it was sold. When Mr. Laramore said he was coming to see the car, it was not on the premises and Mr. Kurrus did not produce any sales information for the vehicle. Its whereabouts are still unknown and Mr. Laramore has received no money for the car, according to the court documents.
The state is seeking at least $170,000, which represents $115,000 in restitution and $55,000 in civil penalties. Because Mr. Kurrus had closed his business and has been residing in Healdsburg, Calif., since January of this year, the state seized three Porsches from the Lime Rock location May 1 as collateral against the impending fines.
The three cars seized from the garage are worth between $90,000 and $150,000 in total.
Mr. Kurrus’ wife, Joelle Kurrus, owned the gift shops At Home in the Country, with locations in Salisbury and Millerton, N.Y. She has closed the Millerton location and sold the Salisbury location. The couple owns a home in Falls Village.
Mr. Kurrus’ attorney, Denise Cloutier of Cramer and Anderson in Litchfield, said that she is filing a motion to dismiss the prejudgment remedy and civil suits. She believes the court will have to decide whether to grant the dismissals before moving forward.
The case is scheduled for a pretrial hearing June 11. “[Mr. Kurrus] will be liable for violating the law if we win our case-no matter where he lives and no matter where his property is located. Judgments obtained in Connecticut can be enforced in other states,” said Mr. Blumenthal of the defendant’s cross-country move.