Dealership apologizes for error, customer arrest


The president of Priority Chevrolet apologized Wednesday for the arrest of a customer in June whom the dealership mistakenly undercharged for an SUV and who resisted the company's efforts to get him to sign a new, costlier contract.

Dennis Ellmer said he's heard from Chesapeake police that one of his managers told an officer that Danny Sawyer of Chesapeake had stolen a 2012 Chevrolet Traverse.

"I owe Mr. Sawyer a big apology," said Ellmer, who manages the entire Priority Auto Group - which includes 11 dealerships in Virginia and North Carolina.

He said his staff erred when they sold the SUV to Sawyer for about $5,600 too little and erred again when they went to police. He said Sawyer should not have been arrested and definitely should not have spent four hours in jail.

"It is my plan to let him keep the $5,600 and to make Mr. Sawyer right. I can't tell you how I plan to fix it, but it is my intention to make it right," said Ellmer, adding that he would like to sit down and talk with Sawyer.

Rebecca Colaw, Sawyer's attorney, said she appreciates that Ellmer is taking responsibility for what happened. But she said he will have to do more than say he's sorry and let Sawyer keep the SUV.

"An apology is not enough," she said.

Earlier this month, Sawyer, 40, a registered nurse, filed two lawsuits against the dealership accusing it of malicious prosecution, slander, defamation and abuse of process, among other things. The lawsuits seek $2.2 million in damages, plus attorney fees.

Ellmer and his vice president, Stacy Cummings, said they were unaware of the lawsuits until they read about them Tuesday on the front page of The Virginian-Pilot. Two managers at Priority Chevrolet declined Monday to comment on the lawsuits, and two phone calls and an email to an attorney for the dealership were not returned.

According to the lawsuits, Sawyer test-drove a blue Chevrolet Traverse on May 7 but ultimately decided to buy a black one. He traded in his 2008 Saturn Vue, signed a promissory note and left in his new SUV.

The next morning, Sawyer returned and asked to exchange the black Traverse for the blue one.

The lawsuit claims Wib Davenport, a sales manager, agreed to the trade without discussing how much more the blue Traverse would cost. Cummings disputed that, saying Davenport told Sawyer it would cost about $5,500 more than the black one and that Sawyer orally agreed to the higher price.

Regardless, the final contract Sawyer signed did not reflect the higher price, which Cummings said should have been in the area of $39,000. He blamed a clerical error.

"We definitely made a mistake there. There is no doubt about it," said Ellmer.

After signing the contract - which listed a sale price of about $34,000 - Sawyer immediately left the dealership and returned with a cashier's check covering what he owed after dealer incentives and his trade-in.

A week later, Sawyer came back from a vacation to find numerous voicemails and a letter from the dealership, the suit said. In a phone conversation, Davenport explained they had made a mistake on the contract and sold the car for too little. He asked Sawyer to return to the dealership and sign a new contract.

The lawsuit claims Sawyer refused. Cummings said Sawyer initially agreed but never followed through.

When Sawyer did not return to the dealership, Priority staff continued their attempts to contact him via phone, text message and hand-delivered letters. They eventually contacted police.

On June 15, three Chesapeake police officers arrested Sawyer in his front yard and took him before a magistrate judge. He was released on bond after about four hours at the Chesapeake jail, the suit said.

Commonwealth's Attorney Nancy Parr said her office dropped all charges Aug. 23 after speaking with representatives of the dealership and determining there was insufficient evidence to pursue the case.

In an interview Tuesday, Ellmer and Cummings said their staff never reported the SUV stolen and never asked for Sawyer to be arrested. They said they called police only for help locating the SUV while they pursued the civil action.

After speaking with police Wednesday, however, Ellmer said he'd learned one of his managers, Brad Anderson, had indeed said the SUV was stolen.

Kelly O'Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Chesapeake Police Department, said the officer told Anderson in advance he was going to secure a warrant for Sawyer's arrest.

Ellmer described what happened to Sawyer as an isolated incident. He noted that his dealerships sell about 13,000 cars a year.

"This shouldn't have happened," he said.


Scott Daugherty, 757-222-5221, scott.daugherty@pilotonline.com



Posted to: Business Chesapeake Consumer - Retail Crime News

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Mr. Anderson welcome to the ranks of the unemployed.

So was this filing a false police report? Sounds like it was.


Sooo, what are the chances of Priority redoing my contract if I don't like the terms...Ya think they just may say, "Sorry, you signed a contract?"

Where was Lizard Lick Towing?

What no one has mentioned is that the manager "wanted the police to locate the vehicle" why? Obviously to send a repo man out there to snatch it and hold it and the man's $34k hostage. To me that is enough for me to award the man $2 m. Since I have to wonder how many others they treated this way. Oh that's right, Priority is a "job creator" who deserves special treatment under the law lest they have to lay employees off. All I know if the repo man came to my house under these circumstances, he would be leaving the property in an ambulance or a body bag. Because he's not getting a truck that I've already paid for..

They legally could not have

They legally could not have it repoed, and Priority knew this.
Nor did they need to use that excuse, as the car does have GPS technology on it, and they knew very well where the car was. They did harass him at work after all, after following the GPS on the car.
Mr. Anderson knew full well that he claimed the car was stolen.
Sounds like they need to look into filing a false police report against him, seeing as they told him they were issuing an arrest warrant.

Why threaten the poor repo

Why threaten the poor repo guy? He's just doing his job.

Priority Mistake

The sales person made a mistake ($5,900.00) on the transaction and didn't want to have to pay it back. Then the sales person tried to shift the blame on the customer. The mistake was made at Priority by Priority. If I were Priority, I would wipe out the customer's auto debt & give his attorney a new car or just pay the $2 million. You do the math!

I don't understand

I'm still trying to figure out how they think they can ding this guy for their screwup. Simple solution: take that 5 grand out of the dumb employees' hides and leave the customer alone.

If I'm Sawyer I'm perfectly willing to make it right--right up to the moment the cops knock on my door and slap on the bracelets. Then it's war.

The only Chevy dealerships Obama didn't shut down were his toadies. I hope this guy wins enough punitive damages to shut these Obama cronies down permanently.

Never Again

Bought one car from Priority. Will not buy from them ever again. They advertise heavily because all of their "word of mouth" is terrible. Their business model must be to entice transient sailors. I don't ordinarily root for plaintifs but I'm gonna have to make an exception this time. If Priority carried the make of my next purchase I would go to Richmond before I would buy again from Dennis Elmer.

On the contrary

I have been very pleased with the service I have received from Priority and have always determined that I would be repeat buyer. However, this is awful! I am glad that they are stepping up and trying to make amends although, in my opinion, granting him the underpayment is only the first step.

My experience differs

As a Priority customer my experience has been positive, without exception.
In this instance it appears the action taken by the dealership is untenable, their liablity will probably be decided by a jury.

I've had the opposite

I've had the opposite experience with them. I bought a car from Priority Toyota and have been a satisfied customer. I will definitely keep them in the running next time I buy a car.

I'd still like to know if

I'd still like to know if the dealership went to the magistrate and swore out a warrant. The second and third paragraphs from the end of the story make is sound like they arrested him without a warrant. How could the police have arrested him on just someone saying "he stole a car"?

That is a very important missing fact.

Line 48

On line 48 of the law suit, it says the police told them that they had a warrant for his arrest. Somenbody had to swear it out.

Thanks for that steve. Then

Thanks for that steve. Then the Police were simply doing their jobs - can't blame them for executing a sworn warrant. Now I believe the person that swore it needs to be arrested and prosecuted for filing a false report/warrant.

Actually, The Warrant May Have Been Obtained

by the police themselves - based on information received from the complainant.

They did

At the end of the story it says the officer told Anderson that he was going to swear out a warrant for the guys arrest...seems to me th cop filed the warrant

some felonies are taken out

some felonies are taken out by law enforcement themselves. They respond to a call and get the information from the "victim" and if they believe the have the probable cause they go speak with the magistrated to get the warrants.

The last

Few lines of the story said the officer td the manager that he (the officer) was going to swear out a warrant. He should also be held accountable. After getting the story from Anderson it should have been obvious that it was a civil matter... And who signed the warrant?

06/15: three Chesapeake

06/15: three Chesapeake police officers arrested Sawyer in his front yard and took him before a magistrate judge.

09/25: article on front page of Pilot.

09/26: The president of Priority Chevrolet apologizes.

Facing a $2.2mil lawsuit, Ellmer states, “It is my plan to let him keep the $5,600 and to make Mr. Sawyer right. I can’t tell you how I plan to fix it...”

Sorry Ellmer. Too little, too late. Yeah....I think Sawyer should hang tight with the lawsuit at this point.

Still Confused

I'm still confused as to how the Ches PD can just roll up and arrest him without at least getting his side of the story. PD: "we're arresting you grand theft auto." Buyer: "But I have a signed contract, here it is." PD: "We're sorry, have a nice day." And then go arrest the joker at the dealership for filing a false report.

That's because the Police

That's because the Police only protect certain peoples rights (corporations) and not other peoples (humans) rights.

If an arrest warrant is

If an arrest warrant is issued, the police are required to make the arrest. They do not get to pick and choose, nor do they decide who is right and who is wrong. It would be more to the point to learn who issued this warrant.

It's a small wonder CPD

It's a small wonder CPD didn't make it a no-knock warrant and wait until after dark to execute it.

But seriously, who the heck signed off on this bogus warrant? Give us a name. Does investigative journalism exist at the VP??? Helloooo.... echo (echo, echo, echooo)

That is exactly what Priority wants

The dealership has a boat load if money to fight these things, and they know most customers do not. So they used the "system" once again to cheat, putting the law on their side to intimidate the customer. The is standard procedure for this dealership, led by men with little or no character at all, and an army of lawyers to fight for them. WHY WOULD ANYONE BUY A CAR FROM THEM? If you do, be beware...you've been warned!


this is the way Chesapeake Police handle these situations. I'm not aware of any other police force who handle these particular cases the same way. Arrest first on the accusation, ask questions later, especially when it involves autos. Chesapeake's finest?

No questions to ask.

The police do not get involved in criminal warrants that are sworn out in front of a magistrate. They do not and will not be privy to any of the information in the suit. The questions should be directed at the magistrate and what was written on the criminal complaint form that was given as testimony to the magistrate in order to get the warrant. People need to focus on that instead of the police in this situation. They will not be in court to testify in any of the precedings. They only serve the warrants that they are bound to by the Commonwealth.

Priority dealership

I am not surprised by the behavior of Priority. Two years ago I was shopping for a Toyota and visited Priority Toyota. When I declined their trade in offer and started to leave the dealership, the salesman would not give me the keys to my car. He wanted to re- talk the offer. I declined, and was only given my keys, when I took out my cell phone and said "well, I'll just call 911 and tell them I'm being held hostage"! Boy, he coughed up the keys real quick, amid much huffing and heavy sweating!! I hope this man continues with his lawsuit and wins big money from these slugs!!

I bought my car at Priority

I bought my car at Priority Toyota a few years ago. It was for a pre-negotiated price (by my bank). Pretty simple the way this works- my bank contacts the car dealer, the car dealer calls me (they phoned me about five minutes after I punched in my info on my bank's website).

Well, the salesman played dumb and tried to haggle, doing most of the classic tricks from the "annoying salesman playbook" (you know). He got REAL excited when I walked out to the parking lot to retrieve the printout from my bank's, and then his amnesia was suddenly replaced by courtesy.

Maybe I should have just kept on walking...


I think most dealers would have come out with "No comment". I think Mr. Ellmer is showing a bit of class by admitting everything and trying to make it right, probably against his own lawyer's advice. Much better than some dealers around here that everyone knows to stay away from...

Is it really commendable

Is it really commendable that he didn't lift a finger until it came out on the front page of the Pilot? Sure, I'll admit that the way you stated it makes it sound like he's trying to be a stand up guy, but if he really were a stand up guy he would have fixed this back in June or July...not just try to do damage control because now it's out in the public eye.

you may have missed something...

In the article, Mr. Ellmer didn't even find out until the other day on the front page of Pilot... Oh yea, I am SURE at least 1 person gets fired but Mr. Ellmer really should look at his organization if no one passed that kind of info up the chain of command...

As it reads right now, it

As it reads right now, it says he was not aware of the LAWSUITS until he read it in the paper. That doesn't mean he wasn't aware of the incident or of the arrest.

I'm willing to bet he was fully aware. But, you're right, if that information did not make its way up the chain then he needs to take a serious look at what is going on within his organization.

It ask says

That he was unaware that it was one of his managers that reported it stolen until told by police Wednesday.

It ask says

That he was unaware that it was one of his managers that reported it stolen until told by police Wednesday.

I agree

Whether or not his apology is well timed or heartfelt, it is indeed rare in this day of litigiousness to ever see a business owner admit guilt in any way.


What choice does Ellmer have, he cannot deny it and he does not want bad publicity that can cause a drop in sales. He has to address it because his manager was wrong and it got in the papers for all to see.

Funny stuff...

"...Mr. Elmer noted that his dealerships sell about 13,000 cars a year."

Not any more I'd be willing to bet... Talk about the worst possible publicity. Made worse by the old..."I didn't know anything about it until it made headlines" routine.

Usually that comment is reserved for certain Mayors who get caught making plans to waste taxpayer dollars in secret meetings....LMAO!!!

I'll Never Shop There

I'll Never Shop There unless I hear that the power monger who initiated the false arrest has his employement terminated.

The "Power Monger" is the "king" who intimidates everyone

Odds are, someone's job was on the line if he/she didn't get the buyer to cough up the difference. It's very clear to me that the owner doesn't care what is written in a contract, even if it has his signature on it. This particular individual is known for his deeds, his abusive nature and his willingness to cheat when the opportunity presents itself. A contract, might be binding between two reasonable people, but it's pretty darn obvious Priority leadership/owners are a long way from reasonable. Heck, he'll just give a few more bucks to a community cause and everything is forgiven, right? WRONG! Dennis, I will never forget how you cheated me, and I hope you think of it every time you look up!

Priority#1: Blame someone else

I love how Dennis Ellmer feels that the mistake was an error and Mr Sawyer should not have to pay the difference. Obviously, his dealership managers did not think so. They didn't want to be responsible for this or own up to it so the hunt down began to recoup the money. Now, its a public embarressment and I have a feeling they wont be selling as many cars. I do blame the customer on one thing, why would they spend $40,000 on a Chevy Traverse? I hope he gets a good settlement.

I bet the $5600 is the

I bet the $5600 is the profit margin.

Priority Hyundai

I bought my car at Priority Hyundai. I am not an easy customer to deal with, but they were excellent in every way. I haggled, they haggled. They made money, and I got the car I wanted at what I wanted to pay for it.It was the best car buying experience I have ever had. My next car will come from Priority as well. All dealerships are at the mercy of the employees that represent them. And even though it is only free oil changes and inspections,
they continue to be outstanding in every way.


I've got 3 Hondas from them & could NOT be more satisfied - fair & reasonable. Service Dept woks with you in many ways. On sales - Hey Mark S. - keep up the great work!

FREE oil changes and inpections

aren't free when they still charge you the shop disposal fee for the dirty oil (which they sell to recyclers) or break the power window motor (that had been working perfectly the night before) during inspection, which of course is required to be operable.

Just make sure you have bail

Just make sure you have bail money ready for when they decide they didn't make enough money on the deal and send the cops to collect.

Conduct a month long Medical Personnel Appreciation Month!

and have Blood Drive every day until the blood suckers run dry, make it a priority...

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Priority Vehicle Mishap

Wow,I would really have to think long and hard before I went there to buy a car. Nice way to ruin a good reputation Priority hothead manager!!

Just realized they have to

Just realized they have to find some way to pay for those free manicures, popcorn and lunches! HA!


How about refund the cost of the suv and let him keep it, plus free gas for life. Also, if he is still employed, he must hand wash the suv for life. Plus pay all attorney fees.

Memo to NickVa

He better hope I am.

This guy's asking for $2.2

This guy's asking for $2.2 million? He'd better hope I'm not on the jury.

Time is the most valuable

Time is the most valuable thing on this earth. His was taken from him and they deserve to pay.

One's good name and

One's good name and reputation also have a great deal of value, and his were compromised by this incident.

How can Cummings say that

How can Cummings say that Davenport told him the price was higher, when she obviously wasn't there? The dealership is at fault, everyone from the sales person to the finance officer. How noble of him to let him keep the $5600...really?? You have no choice! The contract was signed by all parties and you cashed the check!! LMAO!!

I had a similar experience with Priority

I bought a new car from them back in 2006. The actuall transaction was very smooth and I was happy until I got home and had a message from the dealership to call them, they mistakenly sold me the car for to low of price and wanted me to come in and pay more money.....I told them to talk to my lawyer about it. I had a signed contract, approved lending and deal for a price that was agreed upon by their sales manager....They soon stopped calling. I'll never go back to Priority for anything!

Hmmm...sounds like a pattern

Hmmm...sounds like a pattern developing...


It's a modified version of "Bait & Switch"...

How can it be bait and

How can it be bait and switch when Mr.Sawyer switched vehicles. Maybe he knew what he was doing to get out of the extra money.

Ford dejavu

My parents had this happen about 6 months ago...Ford made a mistake and under charged them about 5k on an Explorer. They didn't try to arrest my dad. They just said 'our mistake', you can keep the car and we will eat the difference. They owned their mistake and earned my respect. I am a Chevy driver now...looking at a GMC. Regardless, I will never buy a car from that dealership again because that is just slimy. The whole thing stinks. The arresting this man and then acting like they didn't know about it is an obvious lie. You don't just get a man arrested and not know. The police should be questioned as well for arresting him based on WHAT? Maybe they were within their rights, but it seems like they should require more.

An arrest warrant was

An arrest warrant was issued. The question should be what judge or magistrate issued it, as the police do not get to choose whether or not an arrest is something they feel like doing.

I would not think someone

I would not think someone with as many dealerships as Elmer would know about a $6,000 issue absent the publicity. He says he will make it right. Why jump to conclusions before we know what that means? The buyer knew there was a mistake...There is a legal concept known as "mutual mistake". There is plenty of blame to go around here.

I finally know of a profession more hated than unscrupulous lawyers who clog the system and cost society huge sums by asking for ridiculous awards for relatively minor disputes.....Car Dealers. By the way, I've had one purchase experience with a Priority dealership, and it was fantastic. Maybe it's because I wasn't trying to take advantage of an innocent "mutual mistake."

A good Deal

Glad to hear someone got a good deal from a car dealer. What could the managers hope to gain by pressing this mistake? Good will and more business? Mr Elmer should fire everyone involved for chronic stupidity.
Good luck with the new car.

Good luck with the new car?

consider having another dealership service the vehicle, especially when it needs warranty work. How could this buyer trust anything they do to it. Just read the reviews posted here, there's a track record, and it's not going to improve this buyers experience by bringing the vehicle to Priority for service. Want peace of mind? Just contact Toyota Headquarters and insist they arrange for a responsible dealership to do all repairs. I wouldn't even trust them to change the oil! Those OIL CHANGES FOR LIFE & FREE STATE INSPECTIONS should be calculated now, and paid to the buyer as part of the settlement so Ellmer's henchmen can't harass the buyer for life. Why subject yourself to this? EVERYONE ELSE SHOULD HAVE SERIOUS DOUBTS ABOUT BUYING THERE!

Priority Toyota

I am so glad to see Priority Toyota called out for their bad business practices. I took my van there for repair. Was told it would cost over $1500 to fix. I took it to another Toyota dealer and all that was needed was for a few plugs to be cleaned. I will never go there again.

How much will it cost Elmer

Generally the police do an investigation. If the guy has a signed contract for sale, then it isn't theft but a civil contract matter. They probably gave Priority the benefit of the doubt since someone charging grand theft, especially a dealer, isn't likely to do that casually. You can bet the Sales Manager, Wib Davenport, had some explaining to do in Elmer's office yesterday. His actions kill future sales by giving prospective customers pause to think they may end up arrested for some misunderstanding. Depending on how much it ultimately costs Elmer, Wib may be lucky to keep his job. Mr Sawyer needs to also have his arrest record expunged

So Priority wanted CPD

to locate the car for them??? And when they were told that is not a police function (police are prohibited from involvement in civil matters), Priority alleged the car was stolen. I wonder who secured the warrant, CPD or a Priority representative? Who swore to the probable cause before the magistrate. CPD would only swear to what the victim relayed to them, which as it turned out was a lie. I would say Priority owes him more than the SUV as well. Police are not there to be used as pawns in civil matters. A business as "reputable" as Priority should know better!

found it

item 79 in the lawsuit alleges the dealership intentionally did not provide the responding officer (not a detective) with the sales contract so the officer would have probable cause to believe a felony has been committed. SHAME on PRIORITY!

Allegations in a lawsuit mean nothing

Sorry to rebut your premise but for a small filing fee at the courthouse, I can allege anything in a lawsuit about anyone. We need to see a copy of the arrest warrant and the testamony given before the magistrate. The lawsuit is only one version of the story.


Kelly O'Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the Chesapeake Police Department, said the officer told Anderson in advance he was going to secure a warrant for Sawyer's arrest.


Wow! This takes "Caveat Emptor" to a whole new level. Shop at Charles Barker and you'll never have to put up with this kind of abuse.


Haha. Thanks for the advice Mr Barker....

Apology: The right thing to do

Kudos to Mr. Ellmer for taking responsibility for his employees actions. It takes character to admit our mistakes and to apologize, even when it is clear that is the right thing to do. I don't believe the lawsuit is justified, particularly since both parties were in the wrong for such an extended period of time.

In contrast, the families who lost their children in the VA Tech massacre have still not received an apology from anyone at Tech. The President of VA Tech has never reached out to the parents who sons and daughters were mowed down by a deranged student, while President Charles Steger refused to warn the campus that a killer was on the loose. President Steger could learn a lot from Dennis Ellmer.

Sincere? Maybe

It's possible Mr. Elmer's apology is sincere, but as the owner of this and several other dealership, his primary concern is going to be profit and reputation of his and Priority's name. I highly suspect both will suffer.

Bottom line? This situation will no doubt cost the Priority chain a great deal more in damage control and advertisements than the entire cost of Mr. Sawyer's SUV.

Its all about the $

This guy already knew abuot this. But, since it backfired, now he apologizes. Hummm, I smell a skunk (or an under-insured dealership!). Too bad mr car dealer. The gigs up. I'd never buy anything from him either!

Not the same thing

Where was Mr. Sawyer wrong? He had a signed contract and a cashed check. The dealership had every right to ASK him to come in and renegotiate the price but once he made it clear he wasn't interested they should have left him alone and taken measures to try and make sure it didn't happen again. Sawyer had NO obligation to pay more than the agreed to price.

Equating this to a a situation where people were murdered by a lunatic is absurd. The two situations are hardly comparable.

Well, everybody at Priority..

appear to be acknowledging that they are the culprits, regardless of whether they had or have a case as far as the price difference of the vehicles involved. Priority certainly took this to a new level when they had him arrested, but we also don't know anything from the police as to why they arrested Sawyer without a bona fide warrant. Perhaps upon seeing the vehicle in question they acted? Regardless, Priority threw away their claim, mistakes do occur and a court very well might have found for them had they proceeded accordingly. But they didn't. Now Sawyer's lawyers want their cuts. As the movie said: stupid is as stupid does!

Arrested without a warrant

where did you get that from. The police had a warrant issued by a magistrate. They took him forthwith to the magistrate, as commanded in the warrant. He got a bond hearing, was processed by the deputies and released (most likely a PR bond). The police acted on the probable cause provided by the complainant, Priority.

In YESTERDAY'S Pilot article about this..

the man arrested said that he had been arrested without a warrant having been issued. The article had other references to that, so that's what I was going on. If any of that is incorrect, or has been corrected, so be it. But THIS article says he was arrested and taken before a magistrate, it says NOTHING about a warrant ever being issued. My 'supposition' is that when the police arrived, and they actually saw the car in question, they acted. Wouldn't that be the case if you reported your car stolen out of your own driveway, and upon receiving their BOLO report, the police saw your car being driven? They wouldn't go through the process of a warrant procedure, they would act. I asked if that is what transpired here?

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Impact on Mr. Sawyer's nursing license

Credentialing can be quite difficult with an arrest record. Mr. Elmer, you will have a lot to do to fix this mess.

Mr. Anderson, you will have a lot to do to fix this mess, especially if there is a problem with future credentialing of Mr. Sawyer.

If I were Mr. Sawyer, I would also slap a law suit on Anderson.

Wow, what a sword to have hanging over Mr. Sawyer's head for future employment.

It's the contract that counts

The salesperson who sold the car signed
the contract. That's the person responsible
for the error. Ask Judge Judy. It's all in
the paperwork. The parties who signed the
documents are responsible. The gentleman
got his SUV at a lower price by mistake. It
was his option to pay more, or hold the dealer
to the contract. If it was me...the contract
stands as is. I'd be curious to know if the
salesperson is still there.

Mr. Ellmer won me Over

with his demonstrated generosity and compassion regarding paying fees for animal adoptions last year (was it the year before?); so, as an animal lover, I'm a bit prejudiced in his favor. That said, I can accept, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, his explanation for not knowing about the mishap involving the vehicle.

I'm willing to bet that he will do whatever is necessary to correct the deficiencies, not just because it's good for his business, but because it is right to try to reverse the harm that was caused to a customer.

Just my two cents worth...

Doing good deeds doesn't make being a their acceptable

So if I go out and perform some charitable acts, become part of the good old boy network, save a few dogs and put on a crown to wear in a parade, I should be allowed to falsify legal documents, cheat the public and act like a monarch? Your premise of doing good deeds means all is forgiven when there is a screw up, is just plain stupid

Just wondering

Unless I am wrong a warrant was needed. Who swore out the warrant and what was shown as cause for the warrant? Or did the fearless Chesapeake police sally forth without one.If so why?

Why? Because The "Fearless" Chesapeake Police Department May

lawfully "sally forth without a warrant", as you put it, in any felony committed in the City of Chesapeake, if they have probable cause to believe a felony was committed, and the accused committed it.

I can go to the bank 13,000 times a year

but if I rob it when I go in it the 13,001st time then I'm still guilty of robbing a bank. I wouldn't dream of doing business with these people. I've heard complaints about their service department before but I didn't know the whole dealership was that way.

where are the criminal charges against them?

This man obviously did not steal the car and the dealership lied to the police filing a false charge. That is a crime and they should not just be sued civilly, they should be facing criminal charges and a stiff fine for abusing the criminal system to try and break the contract they made with this man through false criminal charges. Because he is a millionaire and pays lots of taxes the police overlook his crimes or those of his employee.

Still doesn't get it

Ellmer isn't "letting" Sawyer keep the $5600. Sawyer doesn't owe him $5600. Does the owner of the dealership not understand what a contract is?

The vehicle was sold for $34K-that's what the contract stated. Sawyer provided $34K through his trade in and check. Vehicle = paid for. Convenient that the dealership managers have "verbal contracts" and "verbal agreements" with Sawyer-too bad he's got the WRITTEN CONTRACT on his side.

I hope that Chesapeake PD was smart enough to get written statements for the stolen vehicle report. Ellmer's apology = admitting liability = winning Sawyer his lawsuit. These guys are idiots!

Not the money!

In my opinion it i not about the money. This man was arrested, handcuffed and wlaked through his neighborhood like a common criminal. That alone is worth the $2.2M, and maybe more. Maybe I will shop at Mr. hawkins dealership when this is over


Wrong name. I meant Mr. Sawyers dealership!

Good for Priority

I read the original article about the arrest whenever it appeared a day or two ago and told myself I would NEVER buy a car from that dealership. Now that the owner has stepped up and publicly apologized and indicates he wants to do right by this poor dude, I am willing to reconsider - it sure as heck wasn't the franchise owner who made the call, and I don't know all the ins and outs about the ongoing discussion about who swore out the warrant, but it is really nice to see someone in a position of authority with the dealership to step up and indicate he's willing to do what he can to make it right...a lot of people would refer you to corporate counsel and wait for it to blow over...

On second thought

Many toubling questions here.The most troubling is the Commonwealth Attorney's statement. My word I now see the purpose of the Chesapeake police and the CWA is to act like would be mafia thugs in a strongarm opperation. Dear madam attorney why are you not investigating the cruel harassment and false arrest of a citizen? Dear police you should go and beg for this wrongly arrested man's forgiveness."To serve and protect" how sad and dishonest.I am sure you were at your bullyboy best waging war aginst the very you are supposed to protect. The VA Pilot and local news outlets need to look deeper at the foul deeds done here by the minions of law and justice.

Let's see...

Now that the dealer is taking responsibility, will Mr. Sawyer (or more appropriately, his lawyer) try to settle this reasonably, or try to turn it into a lottery win?

I see

Should the victim not have justice. Where was the reasonal response of the dealership? They sent the police out to jail an innocent man. Now the victim of this cruel injustce should quietly accept whatever scraps are tossed his way. No the wrong doers should pay, the sky should be the limit for the false arresst and imprisonment. You may fall down and worship the almighty rich but everyone is so forgiving or stupid.

How can it be made right?

How can a person who was completely straight in the transaction, paying cash in the amount agreed, be "made right" when his dignity was sullied, his honesty impugned and his reputation harmed? While the owner of the dealership may be sincere (as well as not liking the bad press, of course), that he has at least two incompetent employees, one of whom appears to have lied to the police still employed says he's more interested in damage control than anything else. Otherwise, he would have terminated them immediately.

Completely straight?

That is why he immediately returned with a cashier's check to pay off the balance after the swap, right? He was being completely straight. Do you keep the extra money when a cashier miscounts your change, too?

Let's see now

he had a contract; he paid the agreed upon price via cashier's check, and you somehow think this was tantamount to a clerk giving someone too much change?

The last car I purchased (a 2006 model bought in late 2007) was paid in cash. I don't pay finance charges if I can afford to pay for the vehicle outright, which I save to do. Is there something wrong with deciding to not get hosed with finance charges? Is that suspicious to you?

You offer a pretty weak and convoluted way to defend car dealers, among the most disliked and mistrusted group of all, even lower than politicians and lawyers. There is a valid reason for this view.

Had you been accused of theft and hauled off in cuffs from your own yard, you'd be singing a different song.

I am glad I am not the only

I am glad I am not the only one to see this. He knew there was a mistake involved.

This Is A Horrible Story

Dennis Elmer is a fine man - he has been very kind to Hampton Roads' charities through out the years.
His managers need some training on the finer aspects of customer service. Mr. Elmer should have been made aware of the situation immediately. This saga if totally true is going from a $5,000+ clerical error to a 6 figure lawsuit.
Simply amazing!

How does one

"train" adults who are in supposedly responsible positions when they exhibit incompetence and dishonesty? If the dealership owner was sincere to the falsely arrested person, the two 'managers' should have been terminated as soon as their role was discovered.


What a dumb story. First the buyer knew he was getting over on the dealership. The dealership should have pursued a court based option. Now that the dumb manager had him arrested, he gets the car for $5K less than he should have paid and probably a fat settlement check for being arrested for four hours. Boo hoo. Poor guy.

Not the problem

Priority would never have won a in court. If you have a signed contract selling X vehicle to the customer for Y amount and it is signed by those authorized to act on behalf of the dealership they really have no legal recourse, hence the harrassment and trying to keep their jobs. In my opinion Mr. Ellmer should FIRE the manager and ALL the people involved in this charade. More than an apology he should publicly and in person express how sorry he is for these actions, notify him that those involved have been fired and not only give him back the money he paid for the car but pay his attorneys fees and compensate him for the time he spent in jail, say 10,000 dollars. If Ellmer lets this go to court there is NO way he will win.

Whoop there it is!

Looks like Priority's rep just "tanked". Sawyer needs to sue the pants off the Chesapeake Police Officers. They're are the Hampton Roads's most crookest cops. They shoot 1st and ask questions later. As far as Priority goes, Mr. Elmer don't have to worry about me buying anything from his dealership. Corporate America always think they can screw the little guy. Not this one! I challenged Grand Furniture + USAA FSB and won!

What story?

Lawyers from Priority will make a lackluster offer to this guy's lawyers, and when they refuse they'll then wrap it up in enough red tape, useless motions, and appeals to ensure no money changes hands for years and years (or until they break the spirit of the plaintiff's lawyers, one of the two).

Meanwhile, Mr. Elmer will have a golf outing and dinner with the Hoffler's, Mr. Sessoms, a few reps from Landmark Media Enterprises, and the reps of a few charitable organizations; shortly after which this story will quietly fade away.

Ellmer....Charitable, and a Cheater!

Dennis Ellmer bragged about how charitable he is, telling me about the good things he does for the community. What he left off is how he cheats so he can make an extra buck. He refused to pay me for services that were performed with the utmost perfection. He ordered aerial photos of his mansion, stated it was ready to be photographed. (He authorized his secretary to give me the address just minutes before flight time, and had told me several weeks before, that it was ready. Turned out his backyard golf course wasn't fully sodded (Grass). Remember the poster of President Nixon, with a caption that read "Would you buy a used car from this man" ? Nixon's picture should be replaced with King Dennis Elmer's image! And no, I never got paid!

I hope that Mr. Sawyer wins

I hope that Mr. Sawyer wins his lawsuit; it certainly seems that he deserves it. It appears however, that employees of Priority Chevrolet messed up royally during the sales process and engaged in underhanded activities to try and straighten it out. Considering the number of Priority dealerships owned by Mr. Ellmer and the large number of employees, I can see how he may not have been aware of this matter until it went seriously wrong. If you've ever managed people, you'll understand how employees can do idiotic things that you only found out about after the fact. That being said, Mr. Ellmer is still the responsible party and should probably start writing Mr. Sawyer a fairly significant check before this matter goes to a jury.

i'm not shedding any tears

i'm not shedding any tears over this dealership's loss, or any civil damages they have to pay. Learned from experience that a verbal agreement with this dealership is worthless, and even their written compensation nearly so. they lied about where they were transferring my truck from, and how long delivery would take. took my deposit but wouldn't return my calls or explain the delays. later offered a free oil change to make up for it, then said it would be a 4 hour wait when I showed up to claim it. i tore up that coupon right there and still havent been back.

truck also didn't have a feature i was promised. said they would "make it right" but then wouldn't reimburse the $30 i spent adding it myself. i tell everyone to shop anywhere else.

never mind

oops, wait, that was first team i bought the truck from. i went to priority first but they wouldn't even counter a competitors quote. had the gall to claim their bs "priorities" were worth the significant difference. regardless, wouldn't go to either again. in fact, the experience made me reconsider new cars in general. last 2 cars i bought were used.

never mind

oops, wait, that was first team i bought the truck from. i went to priority first but they wouldn't even counter a competitors quote. had the gall to claim their bs "priorities" were worth the significant difference. regardless, wouldn't go to either again. in fact, the experience made me reconsider new cars in general. last 2 cars i bought were used.

I bought a new Chevy

I bought a new Chevy Trailblazer from Priority several years ago, I had numerous problems with it. Once they had my money the customer service disappeared. I was told I needed to talk to my salesman to try to get some things fixed, he never answered his pages, or phone calls and I never saw him again. I was given the run around by the service department and they kept the Trailblazer for several days in the shop, told me they couldn't find anything wrong with it and ushered me out the door. Didn't make it off the lot before I started having the same problems. I traded the piece of junk in for a 2006 Ford Escape, which I still have and am very happy with. I will NEVER do business with Priority again. Good Luck in court!!!

And car dealers wonder why they have a bad rap

It even spi;;s over into politics. There was a political ad that said "would you buy a used car from this guy."

False report to police

False report to police is a crime and the employee ought to be prosecuted. Even better, affecting false imprisonment is a felony. I think this should be on the manager's record so that it can be considered when he is looking for work.

Even crazy Judge Judy would agree with the victim, a contract is a contract.

It will be hard to put a price on this

Reputations have been damaged, the more important one is Mr. Sawyer.

Even if it is all resolved, there is still an arrest on his record AND there is a lawsuit that he filed. I am sure that potential employers who look at his credentialing for his nursing license will see the arrest AND they will see that he has sued. Even though he is justified to sue, one never knows how many potential employers look at that and wonder if they too could be sued by him for some perceived action they may do during his employment. It is not always the obvious that bites us, it is sometimes the unsaid, the misconceptions that potential employers have.

Priority has hurt this man and it will take a lot (not just money) to make him whole.


Not one cent of the bazillion dollars a year that Priority spends advertising their dealerships cannot replace their inexcusable bad behavior. Like the old Master Card ad; buying a car from Priority...nauseating. Being arrested for buying a car from Priority... unforgettable. Suing Priority for inexcusable bad behavior...priceless!
There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's an attorney."

Chesapeake Police

should be investigated by the FBI. Their arrest warrants apparently grow on trees. Chesapeake Police have always used gestapo-like policy, especially when it comes to vehicles reported missing!

Moral of the story

Mr. Sawyer should get every penny. On that note, maybe if the contracts used to sell cars were a little, no make that a lot less confusing, maybe this would not have happened in the first place. Do you really believe if Mr. Sawyer had paid $5000 too much he would have received a rebate? More likely they would be celebrating the HUGE win-fall from the sale.

The Chesapeake Police

are not the only problem. The magistrates make the decision and they are the problem also. In Cheapeake, I guess I could go to the magistrate and have him draw up a warrant because a neighbor borrowed my screwdriver and didn't give it back, especially if it had wheels.

bottom line is...

a law abidding citizen who committed NO crime was arrested and went to jail. I have never been to jail myself and can't imagine how tramatized I would be if I were ever falsely arrested and my freedom taken away. I know it would probably take a few years off my life. These politically powerful auto dealerships seem to be able to violate every law on the books and drag the public around by nose. It's time to take a real close look at the too close and too friendly relationships between the dealerships and city hall. Priority should be made to pay a very HIGH PRICE for using their political clout to strip a citizen of their freedom. Further the magistrate judge that issued the warrant without properly reviewing it should be removed.

isn't it illegal to put an unstamped correspondence in a

us mail box? I would think the USPS would be all over this as it is an easy conviction of mail fraud to proove a point.

Your answer:

3.1.3 Use for Mail
Except under 3.2.11, Newspaper Receptacle, the receptacles described in 3.1.1 may be used only for matter bearing postage. Other than as permitted by 3.2.10, Delivery of Unstamped Newspapers, or 3.2.11, no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by mail. [D041.1.3]


It will come out to costing Priority a little over $1/4 Million an hour for the four hours Mr. Sawyer was mistakenly incarcerated that Priority is liable to pay. Even though Mr Sawyer's cut will be a fraction thereof, that's a nice 4 hr gig if you can get it.

A few years ago Priority ran a commercial with a dark haired woman chasing Denis Elmer around the showroom. I can picture Mr Sawyer's attorney doing the same ... 'Come baaaaccckkkkkk!!!'


While obvious an error was made at the sale as well as the arrest being false, but the suit amount for it is indicative of our out of control and unjustifiable Suit amounts. Reducing the cost of the vehicle as well as compensation for the false arrest and jailing should be made, but what amounts to a lifetime salary for most people is ridiculous. Guess the Jury verdict, if there is no settlement beforehand, will depend on how many reasonable, honest people are chosen vs. the Greedy Get the Businessman types. Probably best to give him the vehicle and be done with it.

Here's the deal . . .

I do not doubt the amount is a figure his attorney pushed for. When all is said and done, the case will probably settle out for a quarter of that amount with between a half and a quarter of that final amount going to his attorney. At the end of it he'll probably end up with something like 1/4 of a million. For all the unnecessary stress and humliation along with having a vehicle that will remind him of what the dealership put him through, I'd say that would be fair compensation.

If it were me, just so I wouldn't have to be reminded of the experience, I'd return the vehicle for a refund - then go to one of their competitors and buy another one of a different color.

Priority VW in Chester

Bought a new VW from them 2 months ago...Payed what I thought was a fair price, with little haggling...Couldn't be more pleased with the experience. After returning to get the radio looked at, they upgraded it free...and asked me if that was acceptable...They got my business..

I wonder

Oh, the people that terrorized an innocent man should not be penalized in an attention getting fashion. One should trust in a jury rather whine about the poor dealership.I know of no more vile act than false arrest and imprisonment.Yet I read people are concerned that the wronged citizen might be awarded damages. How can any rational person not see the horror of falsly charging a citzen of a felony. It is obvious that many do not value justice. hence the foul uttreances of the Commonwealth Attorney.I thought government was here to protect indvual rights not act as enforcer and apologist for those who use its power for what is unabashed evil. If this is the best Chesapeke can do, woe unto the people.

I agree he needs compensation. But $2 million?

That is just being greedy. The lawyer gets 40%, right?

To: Anonymous

2 million PLUS attorney fees

In a few months he'll be able to laugh about it

all the way to the bank.

I wonder what he'll trade up to next?

I used to work there and I

I used to work there and I can tell you it is all about the MONEY!!!!!!

mr. sawyer made oral agreements?

If, as the dealership VP alleges, Mr. Sawyer orally agreed to a higher price then they should have gone to civil court and tried to convince a judge to force Mr. Sawyer to pay the $5,900.

If that allegation is true, then Mr. Sawyer may not have acted very honorably. That said, Mr. Anderson is going to get fired at the very least, and should be prosecuted for false statements.


The same thing happened to me this spring at the Honda dealership. I had an agreement with the sales person however when I went to the finance guy he had an entirely different price and different terms so I asked to speak to the manager. The manager said the salesman was wrong and take it or leave it. I asked for Ellmer to call me but he never did.

GREED is an ugly thing

2 Million... Are you kidding me... This is such a ridiculous amount, don't get me wrong, what the dealership did was "stupid". Having someone arrested... But 2 million PLUS attorney fees... Yeah, yeah, they will settle.

Greed is ugly... I hope they get NO money, get an apology. SO 2 million for 4 hours in jail and your reputation ruined? Doubt it... major inconvenienced but not at that price.

GREED on the all parts... They should all be ashamed of the way they are behaving..

get the $$$ out of your eyes... dealership, yeah, you need to do better than say "sorry" especially months after it occured... same on all of you.


That's why we have courts so that a single person such as yourself can't make unilateral and uniformed decisions.

Mr. Sawyer is a nurse, and as such his job can be lost based on an arrest such as this. Doesn't really matter that he wasn't convicted. If his job earnings are damaged as a result, to what amount of money do you think he should be awarded to compensate for future earning potential?

He's 40 years old and could easily be a nurse for another 20 years. According to the US Dept of Labor, the mean income for a nurse is $66,000. Multiply that by 20 years and you get $1.32 million, and that excludes salary increases and cost of living increases. So $2.1 million isn't unreasonable.

First off, if he still has a

First off, if he still has a job... I don't doubt that he went through a very difficult time. Even with the events going on with this, he could get a security clearance, because it is all documented. NO conviction. Regarding going into a database, if you are not a crook, you got nothing to worry about...

I don't like the fact that it happened in June (if I recall correctly), The dealership apology appears to be coming at the end of sept (it may be the way the article was written).

$2Million is stupid. Lawyers and insurance folks all make the money. I am not saying he is not entitled to compensation, he is... but $2million, this is why insurance is out of control.

I don't agree with the amount

Wrongful Death $$$

The family of Oscar Grant (shot and killed in front of his friends by BART Police in Oakland CA January 1 2009) sued for $ 50M and received $ 1.5M paid out over 25 years. $ 2M for a civil dispute and wrongful arrest is ludicrous.

If defendant's Lawyer really wants to take this to the mat, the corporate Lawyers at Priority (who see this kind of case all the time, just like any other car dealership) will draw the case out a year to grind it down to virtually nothing:

- writing off the $ 5900 mistake
- compensation for 4 hours of RN wages
- minimum Lawyer fees

You are right

car dealerships pay corporate attorneys to defend these cases that happen "all the time, just like any other car dealership" because they rip people off "all the time" and is endemic in the field. Anyone who has been around the block a few times in life knows this well.

Just one other small item...

that mugshot and fingerprints they took when booking him, are cataloged, added to a national database and stays in police files...forever. It's not destroyed. Two mil sounds about right!!


As a Registered Nurse, I'm pretty sure he's already in a similar database. ie, if he were to not have been arrested in this Priority debacle, but did commit a crime, he would have been found through the Nursing database. So, as long as the Client doesn't break the Law, he should be okay.

You do not seem to know much

about how the real work operates. What a naive comment. Defend a bunch of shyster car dealers if you feel compelled, but otherwise, you should steer clear of offering advice on things you of which you have no real knowledge.

Just Saying

I totally agree. Your comments are probably the most sensible that have been made on this story.

It would be interesting and illuminating

to see how the arm-chair, Monday morning quarterbacks who criticize Mr. Sawyer's law suite would behave had it been them who were arrested in their own front yards based upon a lie told by a car salesman. No doubt they would forgive and forget, and would also probably pay the inflated price for the vehicle to make up for inconveniencing the dealership.

I wonder why

it feels good to hear he is "Sticking it to the man".

just sayin, camper won't

just sayin, camper won't like what you're sayin. I think he's a trial lawyer.

U think

He owns that emotion :)


Ka Ching

I hope he gets paid.Going to jail is horrible.They should make everyone in the dealership spend some time in jail.The police dropped the ball on this .How can the investigating officer have a warrant sworn out with no proof of ownership?

Ka Ching

I hope he gets paid.Going to jail is horrible.They should make everyone in the dealership spend some time in jail.The police dropped the ball on this .How can the investigating officer have a warrant sworn out with no proof of ownership?

Car Salesmen

Car salesmen = liars, scum.

Priorities for Life = Ellmer's life, not the customer's

I'm glad to see the follow-up on this. I'll be sending this to everyone I know - stay away from these dealerships. What a disgrace.

One to be avoided

This is definitely one dealership I'll avoid when I'm shopping for my next vehicle. Granted people make mistakes, but something like this? Hard to find an adjective that fits.

$2 Million?!?!

I'm sorry she ended up spending 4 nights in jail but she HAD to know that she got away for $5K less than she was supposed to. My guess is that she copped an attitude when they asked for the money back. She should have offered to split the difference or make them take the car back. I know a little about that business and I am certain the dealership would have been willing to do that.

I don't feel sorry for her very much but she probably deserves $50K or so for the 4 nights jail time, but $2 million? This lady obviously feels she has found the goose that laid the golden egg. I hope the judge will be reasonable and not let this gold-digger get away with more than she should.

Mishandled on both sides

I don't doubt the amount is one her attorney pushed for. If this goes the typical way such cases go, it will settle out for about a 1/4 of the asked for amount, with her getting about $500K. That is still a taxable amount too, so on top of that, more money will come out of it.

Both sides mishandled this case, but sending someone to jail for four nights? That is beyond reason. I certainly wouldn't want the vehicle after that: it would remind me of the humiliation every time I drove it.


My mistake: it's MR. Sawyer not MS. I know a good many male nurses too. My bad.


I meant 4 hours in jail...

By the way

You may want to read that MR. Sawyer (a male) was arrested. HE is a nurse and all nurses are not female (in fact many are not).

Dumb Move

I think this was a very dumb move on behalf of the dealership. They sell many cars a year and to push forward on a mistake they made is ridiculous at best! Take the loss which is slight in my opinion, grill or fire the person that made the mistake and move on. I think he should settle in court and have lifetime servicing for all of this man's inconvenience.

I'm glad to hear high

I'm glad to hear high pressure, flim flam sales tactics are still being kept alive by Priority dealerships; I thought they only still existed in timeshare sales. I bought my last new car 25 years ago, now I let some other fool take most of the depreciation.

Not all nurses are female

Excuse me folks, Danny Sawyer is a Man not a woman. Yes, HE is a registered nurse but not all nurses are female. So HE spent 4 hours in jail needlessly.

priority slogan

I think Ellmer needs to change his slogan to "Priorities for Life- in prison"! Anyone that believes he opened the paper up yesterday and found out about this for the first time is extremely naive.

two sides to every story

Client’s an RN, who should be observant enough to see $ 6k in upgrades like Nav aren’t free. He’s either playing dumb (Lawyer), or is actually dumb (sad, if he gives drugs to patients).

Lawyer cites a Ludicrous payout (Wrongful Death kinda $$$), and hopes for a settlement $ 50k-100k. Good luck. Priority has the combined $$$ of a dozen dealers / their lawyers.

This isn’t E. Brockovich fighting for Kittens and Grandmas against an Evil Corp. It’s a civil case over a price dispute and wrongful arrest / perp walk (no Abu Ghraib style interrogation).

Priority’s Lawyers will gladly grind the $$$ to writing the SUV $ off, covering lost RN wages for 4 hours, and min. lawyer fees.


This won’t hurt Priority’s long term business. HR residents know & trust the Brand that’s done business w Generations of their families since 1920’s.

Ask 100 Priority Clients about their purchase/ownership experience: 93 are Happy.

Talk to those other 7 dissatisfied Priority Clients long enough, at least 2 of them are unreasonable people w difficult expectations. It’s the nature of Retail.

i beg to differ

It will most certainly hurt Priority's reputation. That said, you sound like a shill for Priority Auto Group, and probably are since you posted anonymously.


Nope. You can see just as much of my info as I see of yours, davidm59386.

I did talk to a good deal of people when I shopped for my vehicle about dealerships they trusted (I shopped for 6 months). I specifically asked about Priority once the consistency of recommendations became apparent.

I asked people who had the Priority sticker about their experiences. I've worked in Retail, and referrals are how I make a decision to buy local. And I chose Priority because I trusted their sales process and their time in the community.

My experience at Priority in owner ship has proven just as satisfactory.

I have also seen a Lot of retail clients who believe with high emotion "The Customer is Always Right" is a Federal Law.


Yeah... right it's completely ovbv.


Correct. Level-headed logic in making a purchasing decision, coupled with experience on the other side of a Retail desk, and the unfortunate stance of telling you what you don't want to hear make me a shill in this case.


You are entitled to your opinio9n, just not your own facts

You may now turn a copy of your comment into priority to receive your "per comment payment.


I live across the country now, and have no vested interest in the Priority experience (article emailed to me by a friend).

It's hilarious how people who express an opinion agreeing w a Company in "Company vs Individual" are labelled as "Shill" by those who want the Company gets "justice."

True, this is my opinion, based upon my observations. Observations from upon experience Buying and Selling products in the Retail environment. I am literally giving a counter-opinion to the rest.

True, the Facts are stated in the Affidavit and in Quoting Dennis Elmer's words (as statements, vs possibly the content of his words). Not Facts in commentary by the article writer nor the Opinions of Any of us in the comments section.

Individuals, Corporations & Opportunities

Say for the sake of argument this case hadn’t happened. That the RN never did business w Priority.

One day, the RN & Significant Other (S.O.) argue. RN steps away & takes a vacation. After weeks of harassing calls / emails / letters to the RN, S.O. goes crazy and reports false arrest for domestic abuse. Same public arrest at his home, same perp walk in front of neighbors, same 4 hours in Jail. Then, to the S.O. admits to a falsified report.

But the S.O. was a normal American citizen making $ 36-$50k / year. Would this RN have sued S.O. for $ 2M, considering the same level of harassment / public embarrassment as experienced in the Priority Scenario? No, because the S.O. isn’t flush with MONEY like Priority.

A Lawyer can help an Individual capitalize on this.

Funny how, in casual conversation, people hate Car Salesperson & Lawyers with equal levels of contempt and suspicion.

Of course a Car Salesperson can only help you get a vehicle in exchange for your Money, and you’re always on the lookout for his bag of “dirty tricks”.

A Lawyer and his bag of “dirty tricks” is hated when he’s on the opposite side of your interests.

A Lawyer’s bag of “dirty tricks” are practically worshiped when he can help you get Money from others, whether you truly deserve it or not.

Something about this affair

Something about this affair does not sound right. The customer should have had in his possession the signed sales contract with the vehicle id number on it, sales price, method of payment and a receipt for payments tendered and or his bank loan papers. It stands to reason that once all that info was presented to the police officer, he would or at least should have determined that this was a just civil matter and not theft by any stretch. Something stinks. Possible intentional setup to achieve a false arrest and subsequently sue for a couple million bucks from big bad ole Prioity? Nah, nobody could be that sharp even with a lawyer providing the guidance. Manager vendetta ? Nah. No dealership manager could possibly be that much of a ignoramous either.

Nothing New

As an attorney, I've had more than a few people threatened with arrest by car dealers demanding more money after purchasing vehicles. One dealer even tried this with my paralegal recently! What happened here is nothing new, and appears to be a widespread scam that costs consumers in many ways. I truly hope this dealership gets what it deserves, and that an example is set for the others out there who regularly conduct business like this.

Typical Priority behavior

I have enough experiences from Mr. Elmer's dealerships that I don't ever want to visit again. From the finance manager allegedly pulling up my credit report and telling me my credit score was 200 points less than the official score I was holding in my hand, to one of the nastiest sales managers I've ever met. They're infamous for their bait and switch, they are good for messing up contracts, and it's just down right bad business. Mr. Ellmer if you are really sincere in your feelings (which I seriously doubt), it would behoove you to start paying attention to the staff that you not only hire but promote into the ranks of management.
I won't discuss the crooks in the service department. I will drive to MD or NC before I visit Priority.

I find....

I find it very peculiar that after being told that the SUV was stolen and getting an arrest warrant for grand larceny to serve, upon finding the vehicle in question in plain sight in Mr. Sawyer's driveway, the police neither searched the vehicle nor impounded the 'stolen' vehicle. (If the dealership truly thought they had claim to the vehicle, why did they not just repo it, as, from the article, they already knew where Mr. Sawyer lived). I cannot find anywhere in the article or suit either where they afforded Mr. Sawyer opportunity to produce some proof of ownership. I have never heard of a case before where an arrest was made for stolen property and the obvious stolen property, sitting there in plain sight, was not confiscated.

Dennis, you should promote the person who did this

You could not get his much publicity for $ 5,600 regardless of what you TRY to do.

Oh, the bad part is this is horrible publicity and the event(s) should never have happened.

There is a problem with the infrastructure in your organization where someone is allowed to call police, file a report (or whatever was done) and you are not made aware of it. So you say, anyway.

The problem now is that there is doubt, doubt about the integrity of your company, even the slightest amount of doubt will hurt sales, or profit margin and that cannot be measured as directly attributable to this.

I hope you get as much coverage with the resolution as you have with the incident that caused the problem.

Take out an ad advising the resolution


Seems to me this man knew how to rip the system off. Responsibility, wow, now 2.2 mil. Whos going to pay for that? Greed, greed and more greed.

2.2 Mil?

Sounds like the RN is trying to give Priority Chevrolet a taste of their own Meds!

Bad way to run a business

I think it is good that Mr Elmer is working to make things right, but I agree that it may be to little to late. Seems to me in these big organizations some Managers get to much say so, and instead of letting Senior management know of the problem, they make things worse. Now this will cost Mr. Elmer, and likely some jobs will be lost over this. It was handled very poorly. I was looking to replace a 2005 vehicle, and have seen the Priority ads, but now I am not sure I want to deal with them, seems they don't exactly treat the customer very well.

Should be seeing some managements changes at Priority Chevrolet soon.

Priority law suit

This is a terrible thing perpetuated by the salesman Mr. Anderson because he was probably afraid of the $5,600 coming out of his pocket.
I think Mr. Elmer is stepping up and doing the right thing.
The plaintiff did sign a contract so ... sorry Priority.
suing for 2.2 million dollars? C'Mon .... that is just stupid crap - that's what's wrong with our society - everyone is sue-happy. Be a man, accept the apology and quit trying to make a fast buck.

Another frivolous lawsuit

Customer was obviously looking to get something for free!The managers were kind enough to switch cars after he contracted for another.(Legally,in VA,sign a contract,you bought it-there is no right of recision.) They told him there was a price difference because he chose a more expensive version. Somehow he left the building without signing the correct paperwork. He goes on "vacation" knowing he owed them money. Refuses to return their calls.Why is the dealership the bad guy? Why do people think that it is OK to steal from a business? This guy belongs in jail.I am a long time customer of Priority. I know every employee named in the article and I know they are hard working,decent family oriented people- huge community/charity supporters.

I blame both parties for

I blame both parties for everything that took place. The dealership did over do it though. However, Mr. Sawyer did sign a contract for the black vehicle not the blue one. The contract was for a vehicle costing a certain amount and when he traded for the other one the contract should of been void. When the error was found Mr. Sawyer refused to renegotiate and wanted something for nothing so to speak. At this point the dealership should have gotten the courts involved and not the police.

This story made the drudgereport.com

Yes ... this story is now on the drudgereport. Great publicity for the dealership!

Read the Lawsuit

It is interesting that the owner of Priority says that they will "let" Mr. Sawyer keep the $5600. This is at the heart of the matter. He doesn't owe them $5600-- He has a signed ratified contract. He owns the vehicle and owes them nothing. The arrest by Chesapeake Police and harassment of Mr. Sawyer by numerous Priority employees--including threats such as "we'll get Police to finish the job" warrant a sizable settlement for Mr. Sawyer. The individual(s) at Priority that contacted the Police over this matter should be prosecuted for filing a false report and at the very least should no longer be employed. The malicious intent of these people at Priority is clear by their actions. All over a measly $5600.

There may be a claim by the Chevy Dealer

There is such a thing as personal responsibility. And, there is such a concept of "Unjust Enrichment" - If the buyer knew the vehicle he took home "was" or "is" more expensive and he did not pay for it - and thought he could slip out the back door with the added value - then there may be a cause of action I would pursue as the dealer. "Unjust Enrichment" is where someone fully knows they have taken a financial advantage of another person or entity and knowing is abusing the system.

Maybe So But It doesn't apply here

Priority had plenty of time between the time Mr. Sawyer called to say he wanted to trade in the other vehicle to adjust the price--They didn't and presented him with a contract for the new vehicle that had been reviewed by management. Did Mr. Sawyer ever verbally agree to pay a higher price for the supposedly more valuable vehicle? No. Whose to say he would have continued with the trade in if they presented him with a contract that was $5600 higher? He was under no obligation to do so. He could have just kept the other one. This is a clear cut case of the Priority management behaving in an inappropriate way after they made what they claim to be a "mistake".

Scott, it is "a suv" instead

of "an" SUV. You are not the only reporter who gets this wrong. All day on TV news and the paper....

Not surprising

Not surprising behavior for a Government Motors dealership.

These guys need to step up.

Sawyer has been through the wringer on this--not on his own account. Priority needs to STEP UP and offer some very serious settlement to this guy, like perpetual 20% under invoice on all new vehicle purchases for him and his immediate family. Something that doesn't require cash upfront but is a great deal he'd want to take, and that a judge and/or jury would look hard at a refusal to accept.

Greed Reigns!

What greed it must take to demand $2M in damages. For what? He's no better than the dealership, no, he's WORSE! I hope he loses his case and has to pay thousands of dollars out of his own pocket in legal fees.

Free State Inspection for Life

I bought a new Chevy in 2002. I think it was 2005 when I brought it in for the "Free State Inspection." They found that my backup lights weren't working. Total bill to fix back up lights $130. Needless to say I haven't brought it back to Priority for any service since, including their "Free State Inspection."

They Can't

To arrest a customer in possession of a signed legitimate contract is just hideous. The customer now has a police record, future licensure problems to look forward to in a professional career, and a possible blot on a credit report.

This should never go to trial, but be settled with a huge check, but if it does go to trial ... I just hope I am on the jury.

Further the manager(s) responsible for the customers arrest must be FIRED.

I hope Chevrolet HQ pulls the dealership. This must never ever happen again.

Sounds about right

While attending AIT at Fort Eustis in the 80's, we would head to the Hampton Roads Mall on the weekends to drink at a bar located inside (ID's were optional, shall we say). There were a couple stores in there that had perfected the art of swindling young GIs out of their pay. Sounds like this auto dealership is run by people of the same ilk. Toyota corporate might want to consider revoking the dealership's distributorship.


Quite the marketing ploy:

"Our deals are so good, we'll have you arrested!

Are we crazy? We must be! We must be out of our minds!

So come on down and let us write you up today!"


There was either a theft or not. The apology points to it not being a theft? Someone insigated a false arrest. Why are the Chesapeke police not now in hot pursuit of the originator of the false arrest? To be sure his name is on the warrant, so how hard could it be? Or is just another example of the police and commonwealth attorney(not capitized on purpose due to her dishonorable behavior) malfeasance.WHY OH WHY did the police charge out to harass an innocent citizen based on lies and yet now when there is evidence of a crime (false arrest)they do nothing. What a collection of useless tax gobblers. I pity the people under such a wretched group such as these.

Karma Comes Back To Haunt Car Dealer

My experience with Dennis Elmer:
I had a contract to supply art and installation when Priority Toyota was built. Mr. Elmer signed the contract, his signature within 2" of a notation that stated "installation charges to be determined". After installation he refused to pay. Even after "negotiating" a discount, he still refused. 180 feet of panorama photography featuring Hampton Roads. A very difficult installation, 20 feet high above cars and sales desks in the showroom.

I was lied to, cheated, verbally abused and humiliated. I wouldn't even buy an oil change there, let alone a new car! I've been in business for 20 years, and I have never been ripped off nor treated so poorly by a businessman. PRIORITY is a bad place to take your business!


Guess who will cover thecost of this mistake? You the consumer, I would not buy a car from then in the near future. They are going to syick it to somebidy real good, they will not eat this loss.

What about

The Chesapeake police's responsibility? Any citizen with an average IQ and understanding of the law would know right off the bat that this was a civil case. The police don't just go out and arrest without taking a detailed report unless someone's safety is at risk. Did the salesman outright lie or did they not ask if a contrat was signed? This seems like pretty shoddy work on their part. I am in no way taking up for the dealership. The salesman is a farkin idiot and as the customer I would be FURIOUS, although I think $2m is excessive, but not unusual in our litigious society...the new American Dream... Find someone to sue and live happily ever after.

What about

The Chesapeake police's responsibility? Any citizen with an average IQ and understanding of the law would know right off the bat that this was a civil case. The police don't just go out and arrest without taking a detailed report unless someone's safety is at risk. Did the salesman outright lie or did they not ask if a contrat was signed? This seems like pretty shoddy work on their part. I am in no way taking up for the dealership. The salesman is a farkin idiot and as the customer I would be FURIOUS, although I think $2m is excessive, but not unusual in our litigious society...the new American Dream... Find someone to sue and live happily ever after.

They have the money to settle out of court.

If the car dealerships have the money to cover the radio and TV with their ads constantly, they have the money to settle this out of court no problem.

the real Priority

THIS ABUSIVE TREATMENT does not surprise me.
I used to get MY CAR SERVICED HERE, after I moved down here(VA) from Pennsylvania, few years ago. My car (purchased in PA) was BRAND NEW! --I had 2 arguments with service-dept - Every visit, they tried to UP-SELL me UNNECESSARY EXPENSIVE non-GM-recommended flushing-services. Being car-savvy, I forbid them.
Dealership people GOT GRUFF and I TOLD THEM ALL OFF....they didn't care.

Ignorance is not bliss

This whole situation is abusive and obscene on many levels. As an owner I would be concerned with breeding a culture of customer value and integrity. Ownership may also consider audit and control at the process level to prevent employees at all levels from skimming the till through creative measures. IMHO such egregious abuse of local judicial and law enforcement resources should be handled by local government appropriately through criminal prosecution, independent of claims of tortious injury.

We may decide to accept being guilty before innocent as citizens, but to give up the inalienable right to be valued as customers would be un-American.

Police Dept. messed up

If the PD had done a little investigative work or contacted a law enforcement agency that could, this case would have never come to this. "Sawyer Chevrolet" has a nice ring to it.

My experience with priority

I for one have had a great experience with these dealerships. My wife and I just bought a car this past week from William Podlucky at the Acura branch. Everything went as smoothly as possible. They worked with us to ensure we knew everything we needed to know. They also worked very hard to make sure the payments on the car were just right for our budget. Overall I'm extremely happy with my experience. Of course, I regret that this problem occurred but we all know that the people that work there are human beings too, and from my experience very nice ones. I hope everything works out for both sides. They will have my business for years to come.

Customer for Life

My wife and I have been loyal customers of Priority simply because they have been loyal to us. We purchased our first Acura in 2009. What we appreciated about our first experience with Priority was that the staff was patient, professional, and most of all did not pressure us to make a decision. So when we decided to purchase another car in 2011, we did not think twice about where to go. During our interactions with Priority, we were treated with respect, they listened to our needs and responded with outstanding customer service. The Priority staff went beyond just making a sale, they succeeded in building a long lasting customer relationship with us. We would recommend Priority in a heartbeat because they have proven to us that they recognize, resp

First Car

Priority Hyundai is where I bought my first "official" car. I have now had that car for almost 3 years, and have not had any problems what so ever. Both of my parents are long term customers of Priority, and i now see why. Whenever i have to go in for something they are always very nice and courteous. Whether I make an appointment or just drop by on the off chance that they can take a look at my car, they always handle my dilemma with the upmost care and professionalism. Though it is regretable in this case, it does not change my perception of Priority. I will absolutely be buying from them again, and will remain a very loyal customer in the years to come.

The Full Truth is in the Middle

I have bought many cars from Priority over the years and all have been a positive experience, to include having my vehicles serviced. As for this current state of affairs, let's allow the two parties to reconcile the situation and the rest of us choose to move on to more important issues. As for me, I will continue to do business with Priority!

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