An auction at the Sonora Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership has been called off because the assets were bought by another dealer who intends to open there, a representative of the auction house said Wednesday.
Hazel Tria, with Rabin Worldwide, said a representative of the bank that seized the assets called them Wednesday morning to cancel the sale.
Larry Cope, executive director of the Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority, said the company will be known as Sonora Automotive Inc., but the owners did not want him to release any other information.
The California Secretary of State’s Office lists Leonard Harrington as the chief executive officer of Sonora Automotive. He is also the president of Lodi CDJR and formerly of Gilroy Nissan and Gilroy Hyundai.
Also, documents on file with the Tuolumne County Clerk’s Office list the mailing address for the Sonora dealership as the same address as Lodi CDJR.
A call to Lodi CDJR was referred the service manager Weston Boeding, who was in Sonora picking up vehicles, the woman who answered the phone said. He did not return the call.
Everything in the dealership, including office furniture, equipment in the service department and about 40 vehicles, was to be auctioned.
Sonora CDJR was owned by Vince Porter, who said when he opened in 2015 that he had owned Lodi CDJR for almost two years, but a representative of the Lodi dealership said earlier this year Porter had been gone from there for quite some time.
Porter intended to build a new showroom on the Mono Way site, which formerly was home to Mother Lode Motors. And he expected to hire 20 to 25 people. None of that happened.
But then, on Aug. 23, 2017, an eviction notice was served by the Sheriff’s Office on behalf of Centerra Capital Inc., a Modesto company that owns the property.
At the time, Porter said the closure was temporary and that he was doing some restructuring.
The building has sat unused ever since. The only people on site have been round-the-clock security guards and law enforcement officers investigating a collision in which a drunk driver hit one of the $52,000 Dodge Ram pickup trucks on the lot.
In June, Tria said the auction was planned for July 12. The auction was postponed at least twice, ostensibly while the bank negotiated with the new owner.
A representative of Centerra Capital said she had no information on what is planned for the site but confirmed the company owned it.
Harrington was quoted in the Gilroy Dispatch in 2016 as saying he got into automotive sales in the mid-1980s after owning a couple of Italian restaurants in Stockton. Restaurant hours were brutal and his family was young. He wanted more stable hours and went to work for a Chrysler dealership in Turlock, then moved to Gilroy, where he bought the company and renovated its building.
He has been at Lodi CDJR since 2017. Buzzfile.com describes him as a partner. The online business data website says Lodi CDJR has $1.5 million in revenue and 13 employees.