Five Midas muffler and brake shops in the central San Joaquin Valley are among 22 being sued by state Attorney General Jerry Brown for allegedly using "bait-and-switch" tactics to perform unnecessary repairs.
The stores, all operated by Maurice Irving Glad of Fremont, were the target of a four-year investigation by the California Bureau of Automotive Repair.
In about 30 sting operations, undercover agents posed as customers responding to advertised brake specials, Brown said in a statement, but were then charged an average of almost $300 more for unnecessary brake rotor resurfacing and other work that was not needed or, in some cases, never performed.
The suit filed Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court seeks $222 million in civil penalties and reimbursements to customers. Fresno County District Attorney Elizabeth Egan and Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff joined in the lawsuit.
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The Valley shops involved in the case are at 704 Clovis Ave. in Clovis; 7340 N. Blackstone Ave., 3937 N. Blackstone Ave. and 4304 W. Shaw Ave. in Fresno; and 1420 V St. in Merced.
Brown characterized Glad's Midas shops as "a shady and deceptive operation that violated the trust of its customers."
Glad, 62, could not be reached Tuesday.
The shops were cited last year by the Bureau of Automotive Repair after an investigation to monitor their compliance with a 1989 Alameda County court injunction. The court order barred the businesses from doing unneeded repairs, charging for services not performed or using scare tactics to persuade customers to buy unneeded parts and services.
In the past, Glad has been recognized as a business leader and community benefactor. In 2007, Glad was honored with a lifetime achievement award at a Midas dealers convention in Nevada. And, inspired by his hearing-impaired son, Glad founded "Silent Sleigh," a Christmas celebration for deaf and hearing-impaired children in Fresno and other cities.
Other Glad-operated Midas franchises listed in the suit are in Campbell, Concord, Dublin, Fremont, Hayward, Manteca, Modesto, San Jose, San Leandro, Turlock and Walnut Creek.
Midas has more than 1,600 franchised and company-owned auto service shops in the U.S.