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Deposition challenges timing of BMV overcharges

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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.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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