Update: Missouri DOR officials are taking issue with this story. Today Ted Farnen, Communications Director for the DOR sent this email:
We have now contacted Mr. Swope, and I think he will be satisfied with the information we're presenting him. Again, you can get that information from Mr. Swope since he is the person involved in the case, not you.
Before the Department of Revenue makes a determination in a case like this, however, we conduct an investigation. We can't just take the word of a news reporter or any third party. We also don't reveal information about an ongoing investigation to outside parties -- just like we wouldn't reveal confidential tax information about you if someone called asking about your private tax information.
I'd hate for anybody to take the word of "a news reporter." However, there is not personal information involved here, and the victim asked for our help when DOR refused initially. The question is simple: How did the DOR allow new plates to be issued on a vehicle their own records show as scrapped?? DOR denies it's dodging the issue. I believe the taxpaying public deserves an answer.
(KMOV) -- If you’re like me, a trip to the DMV is never something you look forward too. How many times have you shown up to renew a plate, only to be missing a document that requires you to return home? It’s happened to me several times. Which begs the question of how in the world Chris Swope got in to this predicament: Swope traded in his 2003 Trailblazer during the “Cash for Clunkers” government stimulus program way back in 2009, but the vehicle has since been issued a new license plate in Swope’s name – and renewed THREE TIMES.
Swope contacted us after getting several parking citations in recent months on a vehicle he sold nearly three years ago. His pleas for help went unanswered by police or the Missouri Department of Revenue.
I’ll cover the nitty gritty details of possession of the car in just a minute. The important thing you need to know is that high ranking officials with the Missouri Department of Revenue refuse to acknowledge that this problem lands squarely on their shoulders.
A vehicle background report run by a local dealership shows that in July of 2009, the Missouri DMV listed the car as “Traded in to be scrapped under cars (Cash for Clunkers) program.” Yet that same DMV re-registered the Trailblazer VIN number in December of 2009, issuing new plates in the name of Chris Swope. It even listed his new address, which wasn’t on the old title. When I inquired about how this could possibly happen, I got this reply from the Director of Communications:
“The Department of Revenue has been in contact with Mr. Swope about the issue, including a call earlier this morning. The issue, however, is still not resolved and our investigation continues.
Because of the nature of the investigation, as I mentioned in my earlier email, we will be communicating with Mr. Swope directly, and not through any third party."
Missouri Department of Revenue
Now, the fact that Ted Farnen is clearly refusing to deal with the media regarding this can lead to only one conclusion: The problem is internal, and the department doesn’t want the public to know what really happened.
The plates and subsequent renewals were issued by the North County License Office, at 10990 New Halls Ferry Road. I wanted to know why the DOR couldn’t simply look up who the clerk was who handled the transactions. Once again – silence from Ted Farnen. Recently, a St. Louis County DMV employee was charged in Federal Court for issuing Missouri Driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Could this case be connected? Once again, silence from Ted Farnen.
I contacted the Communications Director for Governor Jay Nixon. They did not respond. If an outside agency could find out that this car should have been scrapped, why did the Missouri DMV continue to issue plates and renewals to someone who didn’t even have proper paperwork?
Swope traded the car in to Pundmann Ford, who presented the subsequent bill of sale to Riverside Salvage in St. Louis. Swope kept his original plates. Riverside signed off on the title, but when I showed up at Riverside, owner Richard Andrews couldn’t find the title. He remains convinced the car was destroyed, but he can’t say for sure.
In the meantime, Swope received yet another citation this week. He’s worried arrest warrants will be issued in his name, for a car he can prove he sold three years ago. That’s scary, and could happen to any of us. But the Department of Revenue refuses to explain. Once again – silence from Ted Farnen.