Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend of Texas | We Investigate

Despite Subaru dealership sale, previous owner still under investigation

 

The dealership sale of a local Subaru will not affect two pending state investigations.

Dozens of people have claimed Corpus Christi Subaru never transferred their car title, and a KRIS 6 News investigation earlier this year showed two cars bought there didn’t have a clear title.

Despite the dealership sale, an investigation by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will continue into Corpus Christi Subaru, said Adam Shaivitz, public information officer for Texas DMV. Any customers who have not filed a complaint can still do so, he added.

The investigation is into customer complaints about Corpus Christi Subaru’s failure to transfer car titles. It left several customers driving around for months, some more than a year, using expired temporary license plates. Under state law – a dealer typically has 30 days to transfer a car into the name of the new owner. That paperwork is what prompts Texas DMV to issue a permanent license plate to the new owner.

The recent sale means Corpus Christi Subaru no longer has an active car dealer license in the state of Texas. However, dealership owner Ronald Lillard still owns and operates Alpha Romeo Fiat of Corpus Christi, which is a licensed dealer, according to the Texas DMV.

Lillard said he plans to close that dealership and all of his used car lots in Corpus Christi.

“We’re pulling out of Corpus Christi and moving to Houston where we can be appreciated,” he said, during a phone interview this afternoon.

As for the Texas DMV investigation, the dealership is cooperating, said Lillard’s attorney, Donald K. Gould II.

“That is all now being rectified via hard-copied documents that we just recently obtained last Friday in working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to get fixed and we’re cooperating with them in the investigation.”

The investigation showed the title transfer issues were caused in part by a software problem with the dealership management program – a computer program used by Corpus Christi Subaru to track car sales and inventory, Gould said. The state identified 27 title transfer cases, and Corpus Christi Subaru is working to correct them, he added.

The Texas Comptroller’s Office has a separate investigation into suspected tax fraud at Corpus Christi Subaru, and that will continue despite the dealership sale, said Kevin Lyons, agency spokesperson
for Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. The comptroller collects sales tax from car sales.

 

Jessica Savage

Jessica Savage

Award-winning investigative reporter who has worked in East Texas and South Texas.
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