The owner of a Wichita car dealership that's now closed has to pay more than $48,000 in fines and other costs after she allegedly failed to give at least a dozen customers their car titles on time, according to court records.
Teresa Molinaro opened 5 Star Motors, 2648 S. Oliver, in 2016 but closed the used car lot in March after her financing company, NextGear Capital, cut her credit line from $350,000 to $100,000. In an interview with The Eagle in April she said NextGear was holding the car titles in question.
A consent judgment approved in Sedgwick County District Court on June 6 says Molinaro admitted to failing to give car buyers the legal titles to their vehicles within 60 days. She has been ordered to pay $48,000 in civil penalties, $197 in court costs and $137.18 in investigative fees and expenses to the Consumer Protection Division of the Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office, which filed a lawsuit against her earlier this year after receiving customer complaints.
In Kansas, generally it's illegal to drive a car you just bought without its title, and you also can't register it with the county treasurer.
A sale is void and buyers are entitled to a refund if a car dealership doesn't provide a legal title within the allotted time.
Molinaro also has agreed to stop engaging in deceptive and unconscionable business acts and practices and cooperate with investigation into any future complaints involving her or 5 Star Motors, according to the consent judgment.
She can't own or have more than 5 percent financial interest in any future businesses, the judgment says.