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Tire Works criticizes Channel 13 after civil action dropped

After a nearly yearlong saga, Tire Works has driven away with a victory — and left tire tracks on the reputation of KTNV-TV, Channel 13.

On Tuesday, state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced that a civil action brought by the state against the auto repair chain charging deceptive business practices has been dropped, despite an aggressive investigation by Channel 13 and the Nevada Consumer Affairs Division. The division was the plaintiff in the civil lawsuit.

“The complaints against Tire Works represented only a tiny fraction of the automotive complaints received by the state and represented a miniscule number of cases relative to the total number of customers that Tire Works has served,” Senior Deputy Attorney General Robert Giunta said in a statement.

In March 2009, Channel 13 began airing stories by reporter Darcy Spears about the fraud allegations. In a sting operation, state investigators left what they claimed was a perfectly running 2000 Chevy Malibu at three Tire Works locations. Tire Works claimed it required expensive repairs, the car becoming evidence against the company and the centerpiece of Channel 13’s expose. In April, citing a “lack of communication with the motor pool,” the attorney general’s office revealed the car had been sold at auction, after the state had filed its lawsuit against Tire Works, preventing the company from inspecting it for a chance to clear its reputation.

“Remaining issues pertained to a handful of concerns that were better suited for small claims court,” Giunta continued in his statement, and Tire Works has also agreed to an “Assurance of Compliance” to act in accordance with Nevada auto repair laws.

However, Giunta also scolded Channel 13 when he noted that “the Consumer Affairs Division’s decision to permit the news media to accompany them on the compliance checks was the reason the case was so exaggerated and received so much publicity. The net effect was that the allegations were made to appear much larger than they were.”

Tire Works Chief Financial Officer Roshie Weightman lit into Channel 13 and Spears on Tuesday.

“It was the teaming up with Channel 13 that caused these problems and wasted taxpayers’ money. They’re a station with failing ratings, and they did it to try and establish ratings,” Weightman said. “It really shocks me that (Spears) may have gone to a school of journalism. She must have missed a lot of courses on fact-finding.”

Weightman added that she’s considering bringing legal action.

“I know it’s difficult to sue the media. They do have a lot of protection,” she said, “but sometimes you just have to say enough is enough.”

Calls to Spears and station news director Karin Movesian were not returned, but Vice President/General Manager Jim Prather released a statement saying “we stand by our reporting about Tire Works. … The attorney general filed legal action to shut down Tire Works, and we reported on the case. We also reported on how the case was later compromised by the state’s sale of the sting vehicle. … On behalf of consumers, we will continue to ask tough questions of both the attorney general and Tire Works.”

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