Ex-Fitchburg Car Dealer Pleads Not Guilty to Larceny
FITCHBURG -- The former operator of used car dealerships Performance Auto and Auto Sales and Imports appeared in District Court Tuesday to face charges he stole two vehicles he promised to sell.
Pavlos Amanatidis, 56, of 48 Goddard St., has a “lengthy history before the court with similar larceny charges,” Assistant District Attorney Alanna Richard told Judge Andrew Mandell.
Mandell entered a plea of not guilty for Amanatidis to two separate charges of use of a motor vehicle without authority and larceny of a motor vehicle.
“In both cases he assures the complaining witnesses that he is selling the motor vehicles, that he will have the money for them, but in fact never does,” said Richard, adding that Amanatidis “continually avoided” contacting the customers.
The complainant said that in March she asked Amanatidis to sell her 2013 Toyota Tacoma truck for an agreed price of $22,000 at Performance Auto, according to a complaint she filed in District Court.
Amanatidis took the car and told the complainant he would sell it after getting body work done. She said she arranged meetings in July and August to pick up a check from Amanatidis for the car, but he never showed up. Before his arraignment she said she called Amanatidis 122 times to recoup the money or her truck, and never reached him.
“He just kept stringing me along, and never took any of my calls,” she said. The complainant said she has still not gotten her car back.
Another complaint alleges that Amanatidis stole a 2001 Toyota Rav-4 in 2015 from a Leominster resident with health issues including bi-polar disorder and diabetes.
The complaint alleges that Amanatidis told the car’s owner, who was struggling to make payments on the car, that if she paid him $3,000 he would “negotiate” with her finance company to “fix” the loan, according to court documents.
The owner of the car said she spent a year trying to get the RAV-4 back from Amanatidis. In the mean time Amanatidis gave her “junk cars” to drive.
She took Amanatidis up on his offer to register one of those cars, a 2005 Chrysler Pacifica, in her name in exchange for $500. Lancaster police stopped her for driving the Pacifica in January after discovering it had been stolen, according to court documents. The person also alleged that Amanatidis forged her signature on an application for a mechanics’ lean on the RAV-4.
“I now have no car and no money to buy a car and the finance company is suing me for the full balance of the loan,” the complainant wrote.
Edwin Howard, an attorney for Amanatidis, told Mandell he believes the validity of the larceny allegations is “questionable.”
“At this point it’s counsel’s belief that there may be some sort of scheme to bring these charges against my client,” said Howard.
Amanatidis flatly denied stealing the cars, before the arraignment, and vowed to seek damages for the “aggravation” the charges put him through.
“I’m not pleading (guilty to) anything,” he said while standing outside the courtroom. “And when I’m done someone is going to pay me for the aggravation they put me through.”
Amanatidis on Tuesday also appeared for a pretrial hearing on two drug-distribution charges pending against him.
State and local police conducted a months-long probe investigating Amanatidis’ “reported illicit drug distribution organization,” according to a police report.
Police say Amanatidis sold heroin to undercover officers two times this year while at Performance Auto on 1022 Main St., the report states.
He denied the drug charges before his hearing.
“I have no idea what they’re talking about, everyone knows I’m not a drug dealer,” said Amanatidis.
Amanatidis had been placed on pre-probation and paid $2,300 restitution to another person who alleged he paid Amanatidis to repair his car, which disappeared from “one of several locations where he stores vehicles for sale and repair without a license,” according to court documents.
Mandell set Amanatidis’ bail at $500 cash for both cases, agreeing with defense attorney Howard that he doesn’t pose a flight risk.