ILNews

Deposition challenges timing of BMV overcharges

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A former deputy director at the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles says he told agency leaders as early as 2010 that many BMV fees exceeded what was authorized under Indiana law but that the agency kept overcharging Hoosiers for at least two years to avoid budget troubles.

Matthew Foley's allegations are included in an 88-page deposition taken as part of a class action lawsuit against the BMV in Marion Superior Court. The suit seeks to recoup $30 million to $40 million that the BMV overcharged Indiana motorists for personalized license plates, vehicle registrations and other services, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Foley's statements contradict those of former chief of staff and BMV Commissioner Scott Waddell, whose own deposition stated that the first indication of possible overcharges came when a lawsuit over drivers' license fees was filed in March 2013.

"We were completely blindsided by it," Waddell said.

The lawsuit alleges the BMV concealed and continued the overcharges. If Foley's allegations are proven true, limits on the time period for which customers can seek refunds would be voided. Absent that "fraudulent concealment," the statute of limitations would allow refunds going back only six to 10 years.

BMV spokesman Josh Gillespie declined to comment, saying the agency does not discuss pending litigation.

Foley also said agency officials didn't want to cut fees or refund customers and instead tried to rewrite regulations to match what was being charged.

"There was a concern that the BMV would need to potentially lay off employees or go back to the well and borrow money again when they had very publicly repaid the last of its government — or state-borrowed loans the prior year," he said.

The new regulations never took effect, and the overcharges continued until last year.

Foley's warnings — via email, meetings and other communications with BMV officials — occurred during the administration of former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who prided himself on efforts to professionalize the BMV and end its long wait times.

State budget documents show that from 2006 to 2013, the BMV returned more than $47.6 million in unspent funds from its budgets.

The BMV acknowledged last June that it had overcharged drivers for operator licenses. In November, it agreed to refund $30 million to motorists in a separate class action lawsuit involving those charges. Indianapolis law firm Cohen & Malad collected $6.3 million in fees in that case.

The agency also has admitted overcharging dozens of other fees, ranging from $11 on antique vehicle registrations to 50 cents on motorcycle endorsements for operator licenses.

BMV officials have said they didn't realize motorists were overpaying until March 2013 and were unaware of the scope of the problems until an independent review concluded last fall.

Gerry Lanosga, president of the Indiana Coalition for Open Government, said Foley's deposition raises questions about the BMV and called for an investigation by the state inspector general.

"Citizens have a right to expect an agency that discovers a problem like this to make it public and do something to fix it," he said.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Pence declined comment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

ADVERTISEMENT