A Maine attorney facing disbarment and criminal charges has filed a lengthy civil lawsuit against several towing companies, law enforcement and state agencies, alleging a multi-county scheme to illegally seize and sell vehicles.

Attorney Scott Fenstermaker filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on Feb. 9. on behalf of three plaintiffs, all of whom, Fenstermaker said, had their cars seized by law enforcement officers following traffic stops and a minor crash.

Guantanamo Lawyer Charged

Scott Fenstermaker Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press, file

Fenstermaker – who once represented detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison – is charged with assault and trespassing after he was arrested in September at the lot of one of the towing companies he’s now suing.

The lawsuit names the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Maine Secretary of State, the Washington and Hancock county sheriff’s departments, the Ellsworth and Dexter police departments, Therriens Used Cars Towing & Recycling and its owners, Dave’s Auto Repair & Towing; and All Time Towing & Automotive. Fenstermaker is alleging they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, Act on organized crime, a federal statute that is notoriously difficult to prove.

In each case, it claims that officers used private towing companies to remove the cars and gave the plaintiffs various reasons why they couldn’t get their cars back. In one case, Fenstermaker alleged his client was involved in a “minor” accident in May. Police refused the man’s request to have the American Automobile Association help move his car, Fenstermaker said, and instead contacted All time Towing, which later obtained ownership of the car.

All Time Towing owner Rob Trask said those allegations are misleading and often inaccurate.


Trask said Tuesday that his company was not immediately called to the scene. Instead, police requested their help more than 12 hours after the crash, Trask said, after a property owner near the crash site called to complain that the car was still there. Trask also disputed that the collision was “minor,” saying that all of the airbags were deployed and the vehicle was totaled.

Trask said All Time Towing gave the vehicle owner more than two weeks to pay their fees to get the car back before reaching out to the BMV for a title transfer which requires another three weeks’ notice to the vehicle’s owner and ultimately removing the car from their lot and crushing it.

“As far as my side of this goes, everything was done by the laws passed by the Maine State Legislature,” Trask said. He said his company moves thousands of vehicles a year and they only seek a title transfer 50 to 100 times. Having read the complaint, Trask said he’s not worried about the allegations because there’s “no merit” to them.

Michael King, the vehicle’s original owner, told the Portland Press Herald Tuesday that the car would have been OK once the airbags were replaced and the vehicle’s bumper was repaired. He said he wouldn’t have tried to retrieve the car if it was irredeemable, and now his family is without a vehicle.

The Portland Press Herald attempted to contact all of the other defendants named in the complaint to address the allegations against them. Most did not respond to the Press Herald’s inquiries or referred a reporter to their attorneys.

The Maine Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees the BMV, and the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which will represent the state agencies, declined to comment because of the ongoing litigation.


The Washington County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment to avoid jeopardizing any active investigations against Fenstermaker. Only Trask agreed to speak with the Press Herald. The other towing companies did not respond to messages asking to discuss the allegations.

Fenstermaker is requesting class-action status, which would allow the three plaintiffs to represent all Mainers in similar situations.

“These three clients are not the only people that I’ve seen affected by it,” said Fenstermaker. He called the issue a “widespread epidemic” across Maine.


But the case and Fenstermaker’s legal career in Maine could be in jeopardy because of his September arrest, during which Fenstermaker was served a summons but was never jailed.

The Hancock and Washington County District Attorney’s Office is asking a judge to bar Fenstermaker from representing any criminal defendants and to prevent him from contacting the DA’s office because he has not yet indicated whether he intends to represent himself or hire an attorney.


Fenstermaker is asking a judge to move that case to a different district. That request is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 28.

A prosecutor with the DA’s office for Hancock and Washington counties has also asked the Maine Bar Board of Overseers to disbar him, according to the Bangor Daily News. Fenstermaker has only been practicing law in Maine since last May and briefly represented clients through the Maine Commission on Indigent Legal Services, though he was suspended from taking on new cases in November.

Fenstermaker is accused of trespassing at Therriens Used Cars Towing & Recycling – another of the companies named in the class action lawsuit.

Therriens, owned by Donald and Vivian Therrien, did not respond to several phone calls and a Facebook message seeking a response to the allegations. Fenstermaker said Tuesday he has been unable to officially serve them a copy of the civil complaint because the conditions of his release currently bar him from communicating with the Therriens.

The company seized Jennifer Coates’ vehicle following her arrest by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in August 2022, according to the complaint. Fenstermaker said he and Coates went to the Therriens’ lot on Sept. 28, 2022, to get her car back.

Fenstermaker was attempting to jump-start Coates’ vehicle when the Therriens came outside and tried to stop them. Fenstermaker said in an interview Tuesday that Vivian Therrien told them they had to leave.

“I said to her, ‘I’m not leaving without my client’s car,’ ” Fenstermaker said.

He said Donald Therriens used towing equipment to block Fenstermaker from leaving. In the complaint, Fenstermaker alleges that’s how the Therriens restrained them “in a place where they were not likely to be found,” in a rural, wooded area of Washington County, an incident he later called a “kidnapping.”

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