Last month, Pat Mauer made her 48th and final $275 payment on a red 1986 Camaro she and her husband bought in September 1986 from GinoMarchetti Jones.
A red Camaro she hasn't seen since April 1987, when the state police seized it as stolen goods.
The Mauers never faced criminal charges -- they told police they had no idea the car had been stolen and "replated" with a new identification number when they bought it from Gino Jones. But that didn't mean they weren't left with headaches, including an obligation to make good on the loan on a car seized after just three payments.
"People have told me I'm an ass for paying this," Mauer said.
But she said she continued to make the loan payments because she wanted to preserve her good credit rating and because she is determined to receive the restitution due her. Not that getting even a portion of the $10,600 owed the Mauers has been easy.
FOR THE RECORD - Articles on convicted auto thief Gino Marchetti Jones in the April 14 and April 23 editions of The Anne Arundel County Sun stated that a report prepared by Walter Skorko, of the state Department of Public Safety's Division of Parole and Probation, and approved by supervisor James McBride, referred to a judge's order to pay restitution to victims in the auto theft case and said, "All monies in this case have been paid in full."
The report referred to the order to pay restitution in the auto theft case, but the statement that all money had beenpaid referred to a case in which Jones was convicted of driving on asuspended license.
After more than two years of nagging state parole andprobation officials for their money, the Mauers are still owed about $7,000.
Like many who would eventually be victimized by Jones, Mauer initially found him charming. She met him while he was living next to her sister in Pasadena.
"He was the nicest neighbor to have. Mr. Wonderful," she said. "This is a guy who never cut the grass in his life but he bought a riding tractor to drive the kids around on.
"This was the perfect guy to marry and have kids with. He was an overgrown kid. But he had a line of B.S."
Mauer said Jones had askedher to store the Camaro at her home because his brother-in-law wouldwant to buy it -- but wouldn't have all the money. She agreed to store it and when her husband saw it, he liked it enough to offer to buyit from Jones.
The Mauers and Jones agreed upon a price of $10,000 and the deal was completed within two days, Mauer recalled. Six months later , state police investigators were demanding to know how they could not have known it was stolen.
The Mauers said they thoughtthey were getting a good deal on the car because it was slightly damaged . Pointing to the car's T-top, Jones explained it had been damaged "in transit," she recalls.
"It wasn't until later I found out it was a pack of lies," she said. "He was the perfect con man."
In1988, Jones pleaded guilty to 11 counts of auto theft and four counts of distribution of cocaine. He received a 20-year suspended sentence and was placed on five years probation under the condition he pay more than $20,000 in restitution to four of his victims.
The Mauerswere owed $10,600 -- the purchase price plus $600 spent on undercoating for the car -- but getting the restitution has not been easy.
Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ordered money seized from the theft ring, along with the auction proceeds of cars seized, to go towardrestitution for the Mauers and at least three other victims. But interviews with government officials show the state police apparently sent money generated by the auction of stolen cars to the state's general fund -- and not to the probation division's fiscal unit.
For two years, the Mauers prodded prosecutors, probation officials, the judge and, finally, state Sen. Philip C. Jimeno, D-31, to wrest the money from the general fund. Probation records show at least three other people besides the Mauers are due restitution, totaling almost $14,000.
In July, the state comptroller's office released about $4,000 to probation officials, said Susan Kaskie, a spokeswoman for the stateDepartment of Public Safety. The Mauers, who are to receive 53 percent of the money available for restitution to Jones' victims, receiveda $2,400 check. Mauer said she had previously received about $800 from Jones.
But the rest of the money has been slow coming. Mauer said she received a check from probation officials in September for $1.98.
"It wasn't even worth the gas to take it to the bank," she said.
At a hearing in February in county Circuit Court, Thieme ordered Jones to pay $1,000 within three days and then to pay $100 a week to build a restitution fund.
Walter Skorko, Jones' probation agent,initially told a reporter Jones was in compliance with the terms of his probation. And a Feb. 28 report prepared by Skorko and approved by his supervisor, James McBride, referred to Thieme's order and said,"All monies in this case have been paid in full."
But Kaskie, theprobation division spokeswoman, said last week Jones is in violationof the terms of his probation. "He did not pay the $1,000," she said.
Probation officials requested a bench warrant for Jones' arrest for violation of probation, and Thieme issued one April 5. The judge issued four similar warrants Thursday.
The warrants had not been served last week and Jones remained free.
Mauer is unimpressed withthe criminal justice system's handling of the case. She is especially critical of prosecutors for what she described as their indifference, and probation officials for not making sure she was repaid.
"I realize they've got a handful of cases against this guy but too many deals have been cut," Mauer said. "This is a guy the system isn't nailing."
NOTE: SEE MAIN STORY (INFAMOUS CAR DEALER STAYS ONE JUMP AHEADOF THE LAW)