Friday, June 12, 2015
Contact: Kristen Muszynski

BMV Investigation Leads to Indictment of Car Dealer

LEWISTON ? A months-long investigation by the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles has led to the indictment of a Lewiston-based used car dealer.

Dan Pulkkinen, owner of U Turn Auto Sales in Lewiston, has been indicted on 15 counts of aggravated forgery and an aggregated theft charge, both Class B felonies, related to allegedly selling his customers vehicles that had outstanding liens to his creditor.

Det. Christine Buchanan, with the BMV Office of Investigations, took the lead on this case after the bureau received several complaints last summer from people who said their vehicles were being repossessed even though they did not know of any outstanding liens.

?It turned out this dealer had borrowed money to buy the vehicles,? said BMV Senior Detective Everett Kaherl. ?The lender put his name on every title and then stopped giving titles back when he stopped getting paid.?

Instead of paying back the lender when the cars were sold, Pulkkinen allegedly used the money to pay other bills, and did not provide the vehicle titles to the people who purchased the cars.

?Most people don?t know they should ask to see the title on a vehicle they are buying,? said Kaherl. ?The dealer is required to have it on premise. If he can?t show it to you, there?s a reason he won?t show it to you.?

Twenty-three consumers were impacted in this case. With the help of the BMV Vehicle Services Division and the Bureau of Insurance, the state was able to invoke the dealer?s bond on the vehicles to pay back the lender so he would release the titles to the consumers who had purchased the vehicles.

?Most of our cases begin with one complaint and blossom out of that, like this one did,? said Kaherl. ?We are pretty aggressive with consumer complaints. We do everything we can to make it right for the victim and to protect the consuming public down the road.?

Kaherl complimented Det. Buchanan on her work gathering evidence from the consumers, which led to Pulkkinen?s indictment.

?She did a great job,? said Kaherl of Det. Buchanan. ?She conducted extensive interviews with each of these people, and it took several hundred hours to put this case together.?

U Turn Auto Sales was formerly located on Lisbon Street in Lewiston and had moved to Sabattus Street by the time Pulkkinen?s dealer license was suspended last summer. The grand jury indicted Pulkkinen for theft based on the charge that he sold mortgaged property; and charged him with forgery for allegedly lying on the title applications. He is scheduled to appear in Androscoggin County Superior Court.