CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – More than a year after Victor Oddo says he discovered his Jeep went on a joyride when it was supposed to be in a repair shop, he feels he got justice – in court.
After a Better Call Behnken investigation in February 2020, the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services launched its own investigation. An administrative hearing judge sided with the state.
The state judge recommended Jeff Arthur, the owner of Mustang, Speed & Restoration, be fined $4,000. In addition, a judge in civil court in Pinellas County ordered Arthur to pay Oddo a total of $909.90 for the tickets, car cleaning, mileage and court cost. He was also ordered to pay another $3,325 for Oddo’s attorney fees.
“It wasn’t about the money,” Oddo said. “It was about the principal.”
Here’s the backstory: Oddo says he dropped off the Jeep on Jan. 15, 2020 because the engine light was on. Text messages between him and the owner document three weeks of slow progress before he finally picked up the Jeep on Feb. 6. He claims it’s still not fully repaired.
Then came parking tickets in the mail. On Saturday, Jan. 18 at 12:58 a.m., somebody got a $40 ticket at Ben T. Davis Beach in Tampa. Then, at 5:11 p.m. the same day, someone got a $30 ticket for an expired meter in Clearwater.
On Jan. 23, the following Thursday when it was still in the repair shop’s custody, there were two SunPass charges on the Sunshine Skyway bridge. One was going north at 10:58 a.m. and one was going south at 12:24 p.m.
Oddo claims that while he was cleaning up the car after he picked it up, he found sand and stains in the backseat along with clothing tags and a pink, lacy thong in the back under the passenger seat.
“People are joyriding in my car while I’m sitting here having to walk everywhere,” Oddo said.
Christopher Kubacki, Oddo’s attorney, had this to say about the civil case: “It’s about making people accountable for their actions, for the wrong they do.”
“This case to me was one of those ones where I was like, ‘alright, we can actually do good in this court system and correct a wrong,'” he said.
Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken reached Arthur, of the mechanic shop, by phone to get his take on the court cases. He still maintains nothing happened with the Jeep, although he did not have an explanation for the parking tickets.
“This has been a nightmare over something that never happened,” he said. “Would you drive that rust bucket?”