GM/GMAC DEFAMATORY AUCTION CALL  STATUS AND
AUDIT/FINANCIAL INFORMATION SHARING SCHEME

At 8:49 AM on February 21, 2006, in an e-mailed letter to Jim Gentry, I urged him to discontinue GM’s Fremont Auto Mall pursuit, and allow us Newark GM dealers to remain in our nearly new facilities.  The letter ended stating, “Finally, I wish to remind you that I am in a box from which there is no way out.  General Motors will not allow me to dual with anything other than General Motors brands, yet it has repeatedly blocked me from having other General Motors brands.  Since 1990, in my extensive and grueling relocation and channeling efforts with GM, nothing has gone my way.  I beg of you to have mercy on me for once - please do not pursue the Fremont Auto Mall project.  If the project is carried out, thus leaving me in a neighborhood of abandonded dealership facilities, it could squeeze out what little air remains in the box I am in.”

Between 1:00 and 2:00 in the after­noon of the above e-mail, in eerily “coincidental” timing, a GMAC representative, presumably Melissa Walker, called my Business Manager, Vickie Gill, to request our vehicle inventory schedules.  Due to the unclear nature of Ms. Walker’s request, Ms. Gill asked for a fax of the specifics of the request.  Later in the afternoon, at 3:31, GMAC faxed a request for an unjusti­fied and unprec­edented 15 items for audit.  The list had expanded well beyond the original inventory schedules to include items such as bank statements, many receivable and payable schedules, and two years tax returns.

At 4:39 that afternoon, Mr. Gentry responded to my morning e-mail stating, ”Received you (sic) letter.  I have been in meetings all day.  I would like a little time to review your points and will get back with you later in the week.”  It appears that Mr. Gentry carefully worded the reply to (falsely) make it appear that he had not yet read my 8:49 e-mail.  Considering the same day timing of the events, it was clear to me that the GMAC request for audit items was prompted by my morning e-mail in an attempt to determine my staying power, but make GMAC’s audit item request appear unconnected to my morning e-mail.  It is quite likely that the last paragraph of my 8:49 AM letter (quoted above) could have created hope in Mr. Gentry’s mind that I was financially vulnerable, and thus the conspired audit item request scheme.

The following day,  Vickie Gill summarized the call from GMAC, describing the GMAC caller as “babbling and vague,” reinforcing my observation of a hastily assembled devious plan to request the audit items prior to Mr. Gentry’s late afternoon reply to my morning e-mail.  Ms. Gill’s notes also describe the unprecedented nature of the extensive audit item request, which was made despite my twenty-five years of perfect GMAC performance and the fact that my dealership’s financial condition was the best ever at the time of the request.  At that time, my dealership owned about 70% of its new and used vehicle inventory, with only about 30% floored (financed) by GMAC, thus making my dealership among the lowest risks of all GMAC financed dealerships.  (In a deposition in 2009, former GMAC Area Manager Ludlow Ramsay admitted that my dealership was “no risk” at the time of the audit item request.  He also stated that no other dealer had ever been “erroneously” placed on “auction call” status before.)

Following is a summary of the events of February 21, 2006:

  • 8:49 AM:  My e-mailed letter to Jim Gentry
  • 1:30 PM (approx):  GMAC call to Vickie Gill requesting two schedules
  • 3:31 PM:  Fax from T. D. Kerr of GMAC requesting fifteen audit items
  • 4:39 PM:  Jim Gentry e-mail to me, “meetings all day”

On February 22, 2006, Jarred Wells of Enterprise Rent-A-Car informed me that GMAC had put my dealership on “flooring restriction”, which required GMAC pre-approval for each vehicle it floored (financed) for my inventory.  Out of concern for my financial condition, Mr. Wells asked GMAC the reason for the flooring restriction, and was told by representative Tammie Kerr that GMAC does formal audits of its dealers once every two years, and puts the dealer on auction call status for six months while it conducts the audit.  (Ms. Kerr’s statement was blatantly false.)  I later learned that GMAC had secretly notified all auto auctions with which we do business, as well as Enterprise, of this “auction call” status on February 1, in eerie “coincidence” one week after GM’s unsuccessful January 25 attempt to induce me to give up my franchises, its latest failed effort.  Unbelievably, GMAC did not inform me of this defamatory action for which it had absolutely no basis.

After further research and connecting  the dots described above, I prepared an e-mail letter to expose GM and GMAC’s unconscionable actions.  Prior to sending it, at about noon on March 7, 2006, I contacted Tammie Kerr at GMAC to make sure that my facts were accurate.  Ms. Kerr was the person who had signed the February 21 audit item request, as well as had talked with Jarred Wells as noted above.  My conversation with Ms. Kerr not only confirmed the accuracy of my information, but prompted credibility-lacking, some even laughable, statements from her that further added to the appalling nature of the conspired plot.  The summary I wrote immediately after the conversation may be viewed here.

After my conversation with Ms. Kerr satisfied me that my facts were accurate, at 3:14 PM on March 7, I e-mailed the letter to GMAC Area Manager Ludlow Ramsay, with copies to other GMAC and GM personnel.  In it I exposed both GMAC’s published auction call action that created a false negative, and thus defamatory, impression of my financial condition, and the unjus­tified and mysteriously-timed GMAC audit item request.  Within minutes of my exposure of the apparent plot, GMAC Area Manager Ludlow Ramsay reversed the “auction call” status, and then promptly withdrew the audit item request.  On March 9, Mr. Ramsay and GMAC Sales Purchase Branch Manager Gary Spinella met with me, at which time Mr. Ramsay handed me an apology letter and a letter to Enterprise’s Jarred Wells explaining GMAC’s “error” of auction call status.  My March 16 e-mail to Mr. Ramsay summarized the unbelievable series of events.

Based on an abundance of evidence regarding these mysterious highly unusual damaging events, it is clear in my mind that GMAC conspired with GM to issue false defamatory information to auctions and rental car companies, as well as attempted to obtain financial infor­mation from me to determine my staying power against its efforts to engineer my demise.  It would have been illegal for GMAC to provide my confidential financial information to GM without my permission, just like it would have been for a bank to do so.

At a GM meeting on May 12, 2006, GMAC Regional Vice-President Keith Constantine expressed his displeasure to me about what GMAC personnel had done to me.  A week later, in mid-career, Mr. Ramsay mysteriously announced to his staff that he was resigning “to spend more time with his family.”  New Area Manager Dan Antonelli took over on June 1, as announced in a letter that uncharacteristically makes no mention of the outgoing Mr. Ramsay, a 20-year GMAC employee.  Had the story about his resigning to ”spend more time with his family” been true, the letter would certainly have stated this noble fact, and said something like “We thank Ludlow for his 20 years of service to GMAC and wish him the best.”  On June 7, 2006, Mr. Antonelli met with me for the first time.  During the conversation, in yet another obvious GM/GMAC attempt to induce me to sell, Mr. Antonelli asked if I ever thought of “just throwing in the towel.”  After his departure from GM, Ludlow Ramsay became an insurance agent in the Sacramento area.

At a later date, shortly after an attorney informed GM on my behalf that I might file suit, GMAC Area Commercial Lending Director Curtis Jordan also resigned in mid-career for apparently unexplained reasons under a cloud of mystery.  Mr. Jordan headed the department responsible for the auction call status and improper audit item request, and signed the aforementioned March 9 letter to Jarred Wells.  It appears that GMAC felt that the exit of the two GMAC employees would provide a feeble defense for GMAC that it was two rogue employees who were responsible for the seemingly illegal acts.  As I believe that the auction call status was an intentional defamatory act, and the audit item request was a conspired attempt for GM to illegally obtain confidential financial information, it is my belief that the actions were of a criminal nature on the parts of both GM and GMAC.

In depositions in 2009, both Jim Gentry and Regional Network Planning Director Ann Blakney acknowledged that Mr. Gentry had opened my 8:49 AM e-mail shortly after I sent it, which was just prior to an all-day meeting they would attend with Regional GM executives.  However, neither Mr. Gentry nor Ms. Blakney would admit to the conspired nature of the GMAC actions that occurred later that day.  In the depositions, Mr. Gentry and Ms. Blakney gave greatly conflicting, and credibility destroying, accounts of the events of the day of meetings, but both talked of a lunch break.  It is reasonable to conclude that the GMAC audit request scheme was finalized by Mr. Gentry and/or Ms. Blakney and/or other meeting attendees by the end of the lunch break, with contact then being made with my local GMAC Area office.  This hastily assembled plan led to the “babbling and vague” nature of Ms. Walker’s early afternoon call to my business manager, and the faxed audit item request that I later learned was hastily copied from a letter that GMAC had sent to a troubled dealer.

At a later date, Enterprise representative Jarred Wells told me that a few weeks after my March 2006 e-mails to GMAC, he received a telephone call from Maryann Hale of Enterprise’s Missouri home office.  She informed him that she had received an e-mail from GMAC (or GM), which included a forwarded copy of my e-mail to GMAC, chastising Enterprise about Mr. Wells’ informing me of the secret auction call status.  The forwarding of the e-mail to Enterprise is yet one more confirmation of the harmful intent of GMAC’s flooring “auction call” status:  if the action were truly an error as GMAC tried to portray to Enterprise and me, its response to Mr. Wells and Enterprise would have been, “thank you for bringing this error to our attention.”

In 2009, in my lawsuit against GM and GMAC, my attorney requested certain 2006 documents from GMAC.  GMAC resisted, but ultimately provided them as required by the court.  These documents contained certain entries that, in my strong opinion, were indisputably falsely entered by GMAC in 2009 as attempted justification for its actions in 2006.  These documents, and further detail on GMAC actions, may be viewed here.

In my strong opinion, GMAC’s actions were absolutely reprehensible, which also applies to GM in the apparent conspired action.