The dealer principal of Tate's Auto Group — accused in 2018 of deceiving predominantly Native American car buyers at his dealerships and falsifying information on their vehicle financing applications — resolved the issue last month with a $450,000 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The federal agency originally had pursued a $7 million settlement, which failed to materialize following the dealership group's bankruptcy proceedings last year. However, if the dealership group had the $7 million, the agency argues it couldn't have recovered the money for impacted consumers because of a recent Supreme Court decision that limits the FTC's powers to seek monetary relief from companies.
The FTC initially settled with Richard Berry, owner and manager of Tate's, and group President Linda Tate for the $7 million figure in September 2020, according to a press release. Tate had locations in Arizona and New Mexico, on the fringes of the Navajo Nation reservation.
The FTC sought injunctive relief and a the judgment for consumers on allegations the dealership group falsified consumers' income and down payment information on vehicle financing applications and misrepresented financial terms in vehicle advertisements. The resulting legal battle drained the group's finances and put it out of business.