In the News for All the Wrong Reasons

The RV Industry is NOT immune from scam artists. In yesterday’s post we reported on three recent news items related to consignment sales of recreational vehicles. We conclude with several additional stories that have recently been “in the News for All the Wrong Reasons.”

Campground Owner Sentenced for Arson

When it comes to purchasing or selling an RV, there are a number of ways that people can get scammed.

The former owner of Shady Rest Campground near Gibson, Pennsylvania, Tamara Santarelli was sentenced to seven years probation, reported WNEP. She Must also pay back nearly $100,000 to insurance companies, money that was paid out after two fires at the Shady Rest Campground.

It was related to a 2009 fire at her residence and office at the Shady Rest Campground she owned near Gibson. Santarelli was also accused of a 2007 fire at the bath house on the campground.

The former owners of the campground who sold it to Santarelli said they were just glad the ordeal is over and that they were able to get that property back. Arnold and Alice Manning owned the Shady Rest Campground and sold it to Tammy Santarelli and her husband, even financing the property for them.

The Mannings said after the Santarelli’s failed to make mortgage payments, they had started the foreclosure process. That was when the second fire nearly destroyed their decades of hard work.

As part of Tammy Santarelli’s plea agreement, she handed over the deed to the Shady Rest Campground, giving it back to Arnold and Alice Manning.

Would you purchase this RV? Image courtesy

The Mannings said they now plan to keep the campground in the family.

Texas RV Park Meth Lab Bust

Aransas County Sheriff’s Office investigators executed a warrant which resulted in the taking down of a methamphetamine lab being operated at the Good Samaritan RV Park, and the arrest of one suspect, the Rockport Pilot reported.

Michael Anthony Mayes, 26, originally of Port Lavaca, was charged with possession of various chemicals with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Mayes’ trailer is the last one located at the back of Samaritan RV Park on the Highway 35 Bypass, near Rockport.

Officials found six or seven ingredients used to manufacture and sell methamphetamine, including chemicals, a cooker, tubing, baggies, scales, filters, etc. They also found counter surveillance equipment including night vision binoculars.

UPDATE: Complaints Filed Against Defunct Dealership

In yesterday’s post we reported that a dozen customers of Top-O-Hill RV Service Center in Aurora, south of Portland, had filed formal complaints with the Oregon Department of Justice over consignment contracts.

Local television station KGW News has further reported that the Berkeys of Southeast Portland want to sell their Hi-Lo RV trailer but there’s just one problem: they don’t know where it is.

Actually, the Berkeys have several problems after taking their trailer to Top-O-Hill RV Service Center, after the business owner told them he could sell it for them.

Nobody wants to be a victim of fraud, yet millions of people are, each year.

The Berkeys wanted $15,000 for the trailer, which they were still making payments on.

They turned over the title and other paperwork and left their trailer with Bill Workman’s “Top-O-Hill” RV lot in Aurora after he saw their online ad and contacted them, saying he was sure he could sell the trailer quickly.

And then Bill Workman died.

Now the Berkeys can’t locate their trailer and they are not the only RV owners with issues who did transactions with Workman.

Over a dozen complaints have been filed, but the Top-O-Hill lot is closed and most of the RVs that were there are now gone. And no one seems to know where they are, or if they do, they are not talking.

A DMV spokesperson said the problems were nothing new for Workman’s business, which had complaints on file going back almost 10 years. However, they did say that Workman always seemed to resolve the complaints when the agency took action.

Now that he is gone, the Berkeys are not sure what is going to happen. All they do know is that they are making payments on a nice trailer that they can’t locate.

KATU News tried without success to speak to Workman’s family members at a home next to the now-empty lot.

In the case of the Berkeys and other customers of Top-O-Hill RV, the attorney general’s office says because the owner has died and did not appear to leave assets, there may be no money coming back.

Worth Pondering…
Here’s what you can do before you buy or consign an RV or any other vehicle.

First check with the attorney general’s office for complaints, then check with the DMV to see if the business has a license and is bonded. Also, check to see if the title really is free and clear so you don’t pay thousands of dollars for nothing.

— KGW Consumer Report

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