Claremont Ford Dealer Ordered — Again — to Pay Restitution

Claremont Ford Dealer Ordered — Again — to Pay Restitution

Claremont — Arrien Schiltkamp, owner of the financially troubled Claremont Ford Lincoln dealership that was forced to close over the summer, had his retail seller license permanently revoked by the state Banking Department last week and was ordered, again, to pay full restitution to consumers and an administrative fine of $265,000.

Documents also show that Schiltkamp is being investigated by the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office.

Schiltkamp has 30 days to appeal the Banking Department order, after which it becomes final. If he does not comply and pay consumers, including fees and interest, the case will be referred to the Attorney General’s Office, a banking department spokewoman said Friday.

The former dealership, on Washington Street, is up for auction Nov. 19. It includes two buildings of 15,400 square feet on 3.5 acres with a combined assessment of nearly $980,000.

The 16-page order, signed Oct. 26 by Andrew B. Eills, the banking department’s presiding officer on the case, reiterates much of what the department ordered Schiltkamp to do in May and June, when it suspended the dealership’s license because it had failed to pay off liens on more than 100 vehicles that were taken as trade-ins on new vehicles within 21 days as required by law. As of June 19, 28 of those liens remain outstanding, totaling $565,000, documents show.

“Consequently, each of those twenty-eight consumers remain responsible for the lien on the vehicle that he or she surrendered in trade as well as for the lien on the new vehicle purchased,” Rosemary Wiant, a hearings examiner with the banking department, wrote to Eills, objecting to Schiltkamp’s Sept. 15 request to continue the Sept. 18 hearing because of a grand jury investigation. That request was denied and the hearing was held, resulting in last week’s order.

Wiant said in her objection that Schiltkamp agreed to the hearing date in August and was aware at the time of a potential probe by the Attorney General’s Office.

“Now, just days before the hearing, Claremont Ford and Arrien Schiltkamp assert as ‘newly discovered information,’ that (they) are the subject of a criminal investigation by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office,” Wiant wrote.

In asking to continue the Banking Department’s Sept. 18 hearing, Schiltkamp’s attorneys argued that their client cannot adequately defend himself “while under the cloud of an ongoing grand jury investigation,” and that he would be jeopardizing his Fifth Amendment rights.

“To the extent that Respondents fear making incriminating statements if Mr. Schiltkamp testifies, he may certainly choose not to testify,” Wiant wrote in her objection to continuing the hearing. “However, potential for future criminal charges is not a basis to forestall necessary proper administrative action.”

The dealership was first investigated in 2011 when it failed to pay off 63 liens on trade-in vehicles. A subsequent order to pay those liens, a fine and obtain financing for the business was complied with, according to Eills’ Oct. 26 order.

But after receiving numerous complaints from consumers last spring, the Banking Department launched another investigation.

Based on the examination of business records, the department determined that the financial condition of Claremont Ford had deteriorated on a continuous basis from negative $75,000 as of September 2014 to negative $600,000 as of March of this year, last week’s order states.

Another consent order, issued May 21, required Schiltkamp to pay off all liens and pledge cash of between $500,000 and $1 million by May 28. When he failed to comply, the retail license was suspended and a hearing scheduled to allow Schiltkamp to show why the license should not be revoked. About the same time, in early July, Ford Motor Credit Co. prevailed in a separate court action and seized about $3.2 million of vehicle inventory from the dealership, thus ending vehicle sales. The dealership’s service department remained open until the middle of September.

“The individual complaints demonstrate the extreme level of frustration and stress consumers experienced” as a result of the failure to pay off the liens on trade-ins, Eills’ order states.

The order also notes that when Schiltkamp was seeking funding for the dealership last spring, he told the dealership’s controller that “funding was possible if not imminent,” and further “instructed her to retain significant percentages of such funding for a mortgage and other personal expenses.”

According to Banking Department documents, the day before the Sept. 18 hearing, Schiltkamp filed a civil action against Dennis Griffin, a former employee of Schiltkamp International Automotive Management, seeking an unspecified amount of damages for breach of fiduciary duties.

The “pattern of self-serving and self-dealing concerning financial transactions” by Griffin was detrimental to Schiltkamp’s various car dealerships, one of which was Claremont Ford, Eills’ order states.

The alleged theft by an employee was mentioned during the Ford Motor Credit court hearing in June, but testimony showed no criminal complaint was made nor was an insurance claim filed.

Schiltkamp could not be reached for comment.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at

Author: Patrick O’Grady Valley News Correspondent

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