Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pennsylvania Prosecutor Not As Generous To Kruse As Indiana Prosecutor

A Dauphin County, Pennsylvania prosecutor has charged former auctioneer Dean Kruse with felony theft for selling a 1919 Sayers and Scoville hearse that belonged to John Bosk for $43,000 at an auction his now-defunct Kruse International conducted in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 2008 but failing to turn over the next proceeds to Bosk. This same scenario has played out over and over again over the past couple of years, but prosecutors in Kruse's DeKalb County have essentially left it up to the defrauded owners to sue Kruse in civil court proceedings as their sole remedy. The Journal-Gazette's Angela Mapes Turner explains:

Although Kruse has faced numerous challenges in civil court, the felony theft charge marks a new approach. It is unclear whether Dauphin County authorities will try to extradite Kruse. Messages left Tuesday with investigators in Dauphin County were not returned.
Kruse was considered one of the fathers of the American automobile auction industry and held one of the world’s top auctions for years in Auburn. His financial woes brought down the empire last year when complaints led to the suspension of his auctioneer’s license and revocation of his auction house.
He has been sued repeatedly in recent years, in multiple states, for his business practices. He sold his large auction-park property south of Auburn last year to Auctions America by RM, a subsidiary of one-time Kruse rival RM Auctions.
Kruse has said previously his financial problems began at the onset of the recession when he began releasing sold vehicles without first securing payment. In August 2009, Kruse endured a spate of bad publicity as unhappy customers sought out media days before what would be Kruse International’s last Auburn auction.
Kruse’s final Hershey auction led to several lawsuits, including one filed by the auction venue, according to DeKalb County court records.

This is a common complaint you hear from people defrauded out of their money in transactions with unscrupulous business operators. If a person steals your car, the prosecutor has no qualms with bringing criminal charges against the person who stole your car. If the person steals that same car from you in a business transaction by refusing to pay you, prosecutors will often tell you that it is a civil matter with which they can't be bothered.

By way of comparison, special prosecutor Dan Sigler charged Secretary of State Charlie White with felony theft for drawing a salary as a Fishers Town Council member for a period of a few months during which he did not reside in his district, although nobody questions that he performed the duties of his office and White actually returned the salary he earned. Kruse sold a number of automobiles at his car auction in Auburn, Indiana and accepted payment from the buyers, but he never turned the net proceeds of the sales over to the sellers. No prosecutor in DeKalb County has charged him with theft. It seems like an unequal application of our criminal laws.

1 comment:

Raoul Duke said...

My experience with the Marion County Prosecutor's office has been similar - a client attempted to file criminal charges against a subcontractor who had falsified and forged a number of documents to obtain payment for work, and we could never convince anyone to do so much as take a police report. I had to walk the deputy prosecutor through the statutes a few times to get him to understand why the guy's conduct was criminal, but even then the police couldn't be bothered and told me it was just a civil matter.

If the guy had written a bad check for $20 they would take a report, but since he committed fraud, deception, conversion, forgery and perjury to get $70,000 that wasn't his, he got away with it.