by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The two men who owned Auto House are banned from the car business in North Carolina, but their wives aren't.
The women plan to go into the auto business.
Action 9's Jason Stoogenke confirmed Whitney Ketner and Ali Brown have dealer licenses and a new business, Salisbury Auto Investments.
Its address is the same one Auto House used in Salisbury.
Their husbands' investment company still owns the property, and the women are already leasing it from them.
Last month, Action 9 found paperwork the women filed with Rowan County, requesting the use of the business name Carmazon.
Stoogenke has been investigating Auto House for 14 months.
He exposed the dealership last May for selling mislabeled vehicles, vehicles that appeared to be higher-end models than they were.
The Attorney General and Division of Motor Vehicles launched investigations of their own and, eventually, Auto House admitted misleading 35 customers.
In December, the DMV banned the owners, Samuel Ketner and Nathaniel Brown, from selling cars in North Carolina.
It said neither could take part in the “day-to-day operations” of a dealership nor serve as a "shareholder, officer, director, salesman, [or] employee."
Just two months later, their wives are picking up where they left off.
It is all perfectly legal. Whitney Ketner and Ali Brown are allowed to go into the car business.
But according to the DMV, if their husbands are involved in the business, their husbands could be violating that ban and held in contempt.
Whitney Ketner emailed Stoogenke saying, "The lease actually provides that the owners of the real estate will not be involved in the dealership."
"We completely understand that they are legally prohibited from serving as shareholders, officers, directors, salesmen, employees, or from otherwise being involved in the day-to-day operations of our new dealership. Accordingly, Mr. Ketner and Mr. Brown will under no circumstances be involved in our new dealership."
Whitney Ketner added, "Ali and I have our own vision and have assembled our own management team to operate a leading edge car dealership in Salisbury at which we believe local consumers will have an excellent car buying experience."
Whitney Ketner described their dealership as a "high volume, modern, state-of-the-art, customer-friendly" business.
She said, "Ali and I have been good friends for over a decade. My partner and I are excited that we are finally getting our own entrepreneurial opportunity. Ali received her real estate license and managed several rental and investment properties. Previously, Ali was a director of operations for a small environmental business for over 5 years. Additionally, Ali has furthered her education at a local college. I have some business training and experience also, I have an education from a local college and have previously worked for a medical firm."
TIMELINE: Auto House Investigation
· MAY 20: Attorney General’s Office announces it is investigating Auto House.
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