By DAMIEN FISHER, InDepthNH.org
The man behind the multi-million-dollar classic car fraud has been convicted of theft again, but victims of Dusty Old Cars owner Stephan Condodemetraky want to see more punishment this time.
“Please, this time, get him into jail,” said Amy Sletten. “He is a menace to the public and the State of New Hampshire has known about this a long time. It’s time he’s taken off the streets.”
Sletten is one of more than 100 people who lost their money and their classic cars to Condodemetraky while he was operating Dusty Old Cars, a consignment dealership that was allegedly the front for a Ponzi-scheme. Despite dozens of indictments related to the business over the last several years, and allegations of $4 million in fraud, Condodemetraky has only ever been sentenced to 48 hours in prison on one theft count.
That may change. This week, a jury in the Hillsborough Superior Court South in Nashua convicted Condodemetraky on six felony theft counts for allegedly stealing more than $115,000 from several victims. The wife of one of the victims in this latest trial said it is astounding he has not faced harsher consequences, and it is time for the courts to serve him justice.
“I want to see him do some hard time. We’re not the only people. There’s a lot of people he stole from and deceived,” the woman said.
The couple asked not to be identified for this article, fearing retaliation from Condodemetraky.
Condodemetraky, 54, of Bedford, started the business in Derry almost 20 years ago before he moved it to Nashua as the business appeared to take off. At one point he had more than 400 classic cars in a Nashua warehouse, 25 employees, and boasted of huge profits.
However, the success was a mirage, according to Nashua based attorney Michael Askenaizer, who was appointed to oversee the business’ liquidation in bankruptcy court. Askenaizer said Dusty Old Cars was a Ponzi-scheme, with Condodemetraky taking in money from loans and investors despite the fact Dusty Old Cars had been insolvent as a business as far back as 2013.
“Condodemetraky directed the operation of the business of Dusty Old Cars … and controlled and manipulated its books and records in such a way as to hide the losses incurred and to allow him to extract millions of dollars from creditors with no expectation, nor realistic way, of paying back that which was taken,” Askenaizer wrote in a federal court filing.
Before the 2017 bankruptcy filing, Dusty Old Cars customers started filing complaints with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office in 2015, with more than 100 people eventually seeking redress from the state. The classic car dealership’s consignment customers alleged that Dusty Old Cars took their cars and charged them for bogus repair and other fraudulent fees, and sometimes did not pay at all when the consigned cars were sold.
Jeffrey Maniff, who lost about a dozen cars valued at more than $160,000 to Condodemetraky, said the authorities in New Hampshire had multiple chances to stop the fraud and theft, but failed him and other victims.
“Nobody seemed to want to go above and beyond and finally stop him,” Maniff said.
Maniff, like many of the victims, never got made whole. He never got his cars back, and his grand total out of the bankruptcy process was a check for about $1,5000. While he said he’s been able to rebuild financially, many people taking in by Condodemetraky’s scheme were ruined.
People were trying to sell their cars to pay for moving, or college tuition for their children. Some needed the money to pay for medical issues, he said.
“I just want him to pay for what he did to all of us. People died over this, they couldn’t pay for surgeries they needed, people were put into poverty,” Maniff said. “I cannot believe that he’s still walking around.”
Assistant Attorney General Kevin Scura, with the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau, said the state is still considering its sentencing recommendation in the case.
“We’re speaking to all the victims,” Scura said.
Condodemetraky’s legal jeopardy isn’t over. Scura said there are two more trials on criminal charges related to Dusty Old Cars scheduled for later this year. Condodemetraky is also facing charges that he stole cars in Nashua using his towing company, TRADZ.
In the Nashua trial, Condodemetraky was convicted of taking in classic cars that the owners wanted to sell through his consignment business. He would then sell the car and keep the money, according to Scura.
Bruce Kenna, Condodemetraky’s attorney, declined to comment on the convictions.
Dalton Flannery, another member of the fraternity of Dusty Old Cars victims, does not expect to see any justice done. His cars were auctioned off through the bankruptcy process.
“I’d like to get my damn money back for my cars, but my cars are long gone,” Flannery said.
“Right now, in the world, there’s two tiers of justice. Justice for little people, and justice for the rich and mighty,” Flannery said. “The state screwed the little guys. I think he’ll get off Scot free, won’t do any real jail time.”
Victims Lilliana Medina and her husband, Woody Medina, are hopeful Condodemetraky gets punished after years of lies and intimidation. Condodemetraky sued the couple for defamation after they spoke out, but that was thrown out of court.
“It’s been a long road to come to this. Hopefully he is going to jail this time,” Lilliana Medina said.
Condodemetraky even tried to sue the State of New Hampshire for wrongful prosecution, but that federal lawsuit was unsuccessful.
Maniff said all of this could have been avoided if Condodemetraky had ever been honest with his customers.
“He’s a very selfish guy, that’s his problem,” Maniff said.