AUSTIN (KXAN) — Five months after buying a vehicle for $2,200 in cash from an east Austin dealership, Hector Reyna made yet another visit to Lopez Auto Group to get a copy of his vehicle’s title.
When he drove up Wednesday morning, Reyna said he wasn’t surprised to see officers arresting an employee.
Law enforcement officials drew their weapons as they arrested Dexton Dedric Young II, 30, on a misdemeanor charge of tampering with a government record. Young is accused of altering the expiration date of a 30-day paper permit for a vehicle sold at the dealership.
Authorities also issued warrants for three other employees, 24-year-old Reginald Wayne Campbell, 47-year-old Dexton Dedric Young Sr., and 28-year-old Demontrion Treavon Dee Young. They all face misdemeanor charges of tampering with a government record, with bonds ranging from $7,500 to $12,000.
“I pretty much saved money to buy this car. It’s a used car. I cannot afford something better,” Reyna said. “I pretty much lost my time and money because I paid for the title in here so I don’t know who is going to restore me that.”
The Travis County Constable’s Office Pct. 3 has identified at least 16 victims, including one man who says an employee chased him off the property with a machete.
Machete-wielding man chases after customer at used car lot
Courtesy: Zak Robbins
Victims who purchased vehicles in cash, say after multiple attempts the dealership won’t give them their titles.
They also say the dealership has sold cars that are not inspected and issued the wrong type of paper license plate, or a fake one. Law enforcement says the dealership is also known for issuing more paper tags than allowed by state law.
“This right here is a criminal enterprise and it’s been going on for now, what, three years? Now that’s sad,” said Sgt. Joe Escribano, with the constable’s office.
A yearlong KXAN investigation into the dealership at 1124 Airport Blvd. shows it’s currently named Lopez Auto Group.
It was previously named T&Y Auto Sales, but closed amid complaints to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Although T&Y Auto Sales shut down, several of the employees at both locations, like the ones who were issued arrest warrants Wednesday, remain the same.
The Texas DMV has 84 open cases into T&Y Auto Sales, as of early July, and an additional 29 open cases into Lopez Auto Group.
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts also has an ongoing investigation into the dealership. On Wednesday, the agency said it is “investigating the dealer not transferring titles in a timely fashion and/or any other criminal violations that may arise, taxes included.”
Law enforcement officials spoke with the owner of Lopez Auto Group during their investigation. The confirmed to them that his nephew, the eldest Young, is a managing partner and that he worked at T&Y Auto Sales before working at Lopez Auto Group, according to an arrest affidavit.
KXAN contacted the owner of Lopez Auto Group, who said he is was trying to help his nephews.
He says although his name is on the business’ official paperwork filed with the Texas DMV, he is not involved with the business. In fact, he doesn’t even live in Austin; he lives in Houston.
“I am getting out of the business,” the owner said.
We also reached out to the owner of the dealership previously at that location, T&Y Auto Sales, but he did not return messages.
Authorities executed a search warrant of the dealership during Wednesday’s bust and hauled away printers and several boxes, which they have since discovered were filled with hundreds of vehicle titles.
On Wednesday, the Texas DMV said it likely could not discuss anything related to the arrest warrants, but are encouraging consumers who have experienced issues with T&Y Auto Sales and Lopez Auto Group to file a complaint if they haven’t already.
While the DMV continues to look into complaints against the dealership, Constable Stacy Suits, Precinct 3, says he is focusing his efforts on making sure the same employees don’t open up under another name if they are shut down.
“We are not going to play whack-a-mole anymore with these types of unscrupulous dealers defrauding the public,” Suits said. “We are not going to allow a situation like this to continue in this county anymore.”
Customers can file a complaint against a car dealership with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles by clicking here.
Be sure to watch KXAN’s special report on Friday, when we reveal how this business has remained open even after a similar bust in 2016.