AUBURN – Officials in Pennsylvania want former auctioneer Dean V. Kruse to face a felony charge in that state.
Late Tuesday, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department released a statement that arrangements were under way for Kruse’s surrender at the Auburn courthouse this morning, when he would be taken before a judge to deal with extradition issues.
Kruse, 69, was charged Monday in Dauphin County, Pa., with one count of theft, dating to a 2008 auction. Through his now-defunct company Kruse International, he held auctions in Hershey, Pa., for many years.
The seller of a 1919 Sayers and Scovill Co. hearse, John Bosk, told police in Dauphin County he sold the car through Kruse’s Hershey auction for $43,000 in October 2008. After Kruse’s fee, Bosk’s profit would be $38,000, according to Dauphin police records.
Bosk said Kruse never paid, in a tale oft-repeated by dozens of other sellers who have filed civil suits against Kruse.
Although Kruse has faced numerous challenges in civil court, the felony theft charge marks a new approach. It is unclear whether Dauphin County authorities will try to extradite Kruse. Messages left Tuesday with investigators in Dauphin County were not returned.
Kruse was considered one of the fathers of the American automobile auction industry and held one of the world’s top auctions for years in Auburn. His financial woes brought down the empire last year when complaints led to the suspension of his auctioneer’s license and revocation of his auction house.
He has been sued repeatedly in recent years, in multiple states, for his business practices. He sold his large auction-park property south of Auburn last year to Auctions America by RM, a subsidiary of one-time Kruse rival RM Auctions.
Kruse has said previously his financial problems began at the onset of the recession when he began releasing sold vehicles without first securing payment. In August 2009, Kruse endured a spate of bad publicity as unhappy customers sought out media days before what would be Kruse International’s last Auburn auction.
Kruse’s final Hershey auction led to several lawsuits, including one filed by the auction venue, according to DeKalb County court records.
Journal Gazette reporter Rebecca S. Green contributed to this story.