A federal judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit against several towing companies, law enforcement and state agencies alleging they were all part of a multicounty scheme to illegally seize and sell vehicles.

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

Guantanamo Lawyer Charged

Scott Fenstermaker Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

But Fenstermaker was suspended from practicing law in Maine a month later and the judge overseeing the federal case gave the plaintiffs – Jennifer Coates, Michael King and Jennifer Hunt – a July 21 deadline to say whether they wanted to find a new attorney or represent themselves.

“Because the plaintiffs have not appeared or otherwise responded since the initial filing of their complaint in February 2023, and because they failed to comply with the court’s order, dismissal is warranted,” U.S. District Judge Jon Levy wrote in his order on Tuesday.

A clerk for the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, which is considering whether Fenstermaker can resume practicing law, confirmed the case is still active. Fenstermaker did not respond to a message seeking his reaction to the dismissal or an update on his suspension.

Fenstermaker’s license was suspended after he was charged with trespassing at Therriens Used Cars Towing & Recycling, one of the companies he alleged was involved in the conspiracy.


The plaintiffs also did not respond to emails Wednesday asking about the complaint’s dismissal.

The lawsuit named as defendants 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, alleging that they violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, a federal statute.

In each case, it claimed that law enforcement used the private towing companies to remove the plaintiffs’ cars following infractions and crashes, and gave the plaintiffs various reasons why they couldn’t get their cars back.

The complaint then alleged that the towing companies were taking advantage of the BMV’s title transfer law to get ownership of the vehicles and sell them.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said in a written statement on Wednesday that she was pleased with the dismissal.

“We appreciate the court’s dismissal of this case,” Bellows said. “The Bureau of Motor Vehicles stands by the integrity of our excellent customer service to the people of Maine.”


Peter Marchesi, an attorney representing the Washington and Hancock county sheriff’s departments, said in an email Wednesday that Levy’s decision was appropriate.

“This piece of litigation was one of the most ill-advised and ill-conceived that I have seen in over 30 years of practicing law,” Marchesi wrote. “It is appropriate that the court saw fit to dismiss it at a very early stage, even though the dismissal was largely on procedural grounds.  The sheriff’s offices may now continue their good work in service of the public without further distraction from this frivolous filing.”

Kasia Park, who represented the police departments in Ellsworth and Dexter, said her clients were “prepared to vigorously defend against all of the plaintiffs’ claims and we are therefore pleased with the dismissal.”

Therriens did not respond to calls Wednesday seeking a reaction to the dismissal.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story