COMPLETE STORY: Clearfield Auto Repairs Shop Owner Charged with Deceptive Business Practices

CLEARFIELD – Clearfield Borough police have filed criminal charges on James Leroy Baldwin, 52, of Clearfield for deceptive business practices, F3, at his local auto repairs shop.

Baldwin has also been charged with theft by deception, M1, and receiving stolen property, M1. He owns and operates L & J Auto Repairs, 420 River Rd., Clearfield.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, on May 24 the victim reported that he had a motor home, which needed work done on it. He’d taken it to L & J Auto Repairs around May 9 to be repaired by Baldwin.

On May 20 or 21, he had picked up his motor home and also paid for the work that was to be done on it. After he’d taken the motor home, he allegedly discovered problems weren’t repaired and work wasn’t completed, as the oil was dirty and its filter hadn’t been replaced.

His invoice from L & J Auto Repairs listed the work done and the cost of a “sending unit” of $39.86. It stated that all of the fluids, tires and brakes were checked. There were costs for an oil filter, $4.87; seven quarts of oil, $27.79; and labor for oil change, $12.

His invoice also stated the heater blower motor, radio and cigarette lighter were all repaired for 2.5 hours at $112.50. The victim was charged a total of $208.84 for the repair work, according to the affidavit.

On May 28 police contacted the victim who indicated that he’d taken his motor home to L & J Auto Repairs to get the gas gauge, radio and heater blower repaired. He had also requested to have it serviced, which included an oil and filter change and state inspection.

He told police his motor home had been at the repair shop for about a month when Baldwin advised him that all of the repairs were done, excluding the gas gauge. He didn’t want to wait any longer and decided to pick up his motor home.

When he picked up his motor home, the victim said he’d paid the total cost for the repairs. Sometime after he’d taken it home, he noticed that the heater blower still wasn’t repaired. He also checked his oil and filter and noticed the oil was dark black and the filter was the same one that was on it when he had dropped it off.

The victim told police he’d attempted to contact Baldwin multiple times; however, he was hung up on each time. On May 27 he had to have the motor home towed, as its brakes had stopped functioning. As a result, he had to hire another shop to complete repairs that were supposed to be done by Baldwin.

On June 13 an invoice was completed by that shop for work on the victim’s motor home. It showed that the heater blower switch, wiring for the switch, oil and filter and a fuel float were replaced on it. The fuel float repaired the problem with the fuel gauge and a “sending unit” was not needed as previously indicated by Baldwin.

On July 10 police asked Baldwin what had happened to the victim’s motor home. The owner of the garage, he said, had evicted him before he was able to finish the work. He told police that he had billed the victim because he didn’t have money for one of the parts, and he needed to order it.

According to Baldwin, he had ordered a “sending unit” for the fuel gauge, which has been on backorder for about a month. He told police he did change the oil and filter on the camper but didn’t have any receipts or paperwork to show that he’d purchased or ordered any items. Baldwin said he would just reimburse the victim for the “sending unit.”

On July 11 police found an auto parts shop was unable to locate a sending unit order for a 1989 Ford E-350 conversion van. Police were told the shop doesn’t sell the “sending unit” itself and that Baldwin would have been required to order a new fuel pump, which was not ordered for this unit and parts are never on backorder for a month.

Police also spoke with the mechanic who ultimately completed the work on the victim’s motor home. He said it was obvious the oil and filter hadn’t been changed in some time. He also stated the “sending unit” wasn’t needed to fix the fuel gauge problem.

Police showed the mechanic the invoice that Baldwin had given to the victim for the work he had allegedly completed on the motor home. He told police the only problems that his shop didn’t have to repair were with the radio and cigarette lighter, which were working properly when they received it for service.

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