The lawsuit against Theodore J. Sopko seeks to permanently ban Sopko from selling vehicles without a license and to recover restitution for consumers affected by Sopko's allegedly deceptive business practices.
According to the lawsuit, Sopko, of Hershey, "has shown a remarkable unwillingness, inability or recalcitrance to running an automobile business in a lawful manner in the Commonwealth."
It is alleged that he presented himself as a vehicle "broker," a practice which is illegal under Pennsylvania law. It is further alleged that Sopko advertised the sale of more than 30 vehicles on the Internet, even though he was not properly licensed as a dealer or a salesperson at the locations where the transactions allegedly took place.
The lawsuit states that Sopko also violated a civil settlement that he reached with the Office of Attorney General in 1996. The settlement, reached in the form of an assurance of voluntary compliance, alleged that Sopko sold motor vehicles without being properly licensed.
Six months after that settlement was reached, Sopko violated the settlement by selling a shoddy vehicle to a consumer. Based on that sale, the Office of Attorney General moved for sanctions in 1997. The Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas agreed, and along with being ordered to pay restitution and other penalties, Sopko was suspended from car sales for 90 days.
Sopko was later held in contempt for violating a court order because he sold three vehicles during the 90-day suspension. The contempt order was upheld on appeal.
The current lawsuit filed against Sopko seeks $1,000 for every violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, as well as $3,000 for every violation involving a consumer 60 years old or older. The lawsuit further seeks payment to cover investigative and legal costs.