A Ford Motor Co. spokeswoman said the company will work with the dealer and customers to solve problems.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
EAST PALESTINE -- Ohio State Highway Patrol investigators are handling complaints from Heritage Ford-Mercury customers and will turn any they consider criminal over to the county prosecutor.
The dealership closed Monday without warning. Police said customers who stopped in for service or to pick up parts were turned away.
Since then, half a dozen customers have filed complaints with police. They stated they have paid for new vehicles and have not received titles, and the dealer has not paid off the bank loans on vehicles they traded in. In some cases, the trade-ins have been sold.
What to do: Trooper Dennis Goodhart of OSHP in Trumbull County said any Heritage Ford customers having difficulty with titles or loan payments should file a complaint with East Palestine police.
He said police will then forward the information to him. Complaints appear to be a mix of civil and criminal, he said.
Goodhart will turn over any criminal complaints to the Columbiana County prosecutor. He is investigating with assistance from the Ohio Attorney General's office and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
He said the attorney general's office has a title rescinded fund to assist motorists when vehicle titles are lost.
No one answered the phone Friday at Heritage Ford. Calls Friday to Hall's home and to his attorney's office were not returned.
Former employee: Bruce Mansfield, a 25-percent partner and former sales representative for Heritage Ford, said Friday he can't believe Hall has "just let it fall apart."
Mansfield, who now works at Columbiana Ford, said Hall fired him last February. He had worked at Heritage Ford for 30 years.
Susan Krusel, a spokeswoman at the Ford Motor Co.'s corporate headquarters in Detroit, said Friday that corporate officials are aware the local dealership has closed and will work with the dealer and the customer to solve problems.
"Ford dealers are independent owners, but of course we want our customers to be happy with our product and our dealers," she said.