A Whiteland hot rod restoration company is being sued by the state of Indiana for deceiving customers and failing to do the work asked of them.
JB Bugs Trick & Truck Shop LLC and Palm Principals LLC — both operating under the name JB Bugs — and owners John E. Bragg II and Melanie Goode are being sued by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, his office announced Monday. The lawsuit stems from their failure to perform work after taking payments from customers seeking restoration of vintage Volkswagen vehicles.
The attorney general’s office alleges that 19 consumers paid JB Bugs $227,000 without the company restoring the consumers’ vehicles or providing any refunds. Officials say the defendants violated the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act’s prohibition on deceptive and unfair business practices, according to a news release.
After customers paid the company significant sums of money for the restorations — and received assurances the work was in progress — they eventually learned the company’s building, located in Whiteland, was vacated and their vintage vehicles missing.
“As a Volkswagen Thing and Bug enthusiast myself, I understand the love poured into these vehicles by their owners,” Rokita said in a statement. “Unfortunately, scammers play on these kinds of passions to defraud people of money, but we will keep working to protect Hoosiers and hold businesses accountable.”
Rokita is seeking restitution for the affected consumers and civil penalties against the defendants, his office says.
Bragg, 45, is also facing criminal charges for his alleged actions at the company A former Greenwood and Nashville resident, he was arrested earlier this month in North Carolina on a local warrant stemming from fraud and theft charges.
Since last June, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has sought Bragg in connection to the reported fraud and theft charges. In June, the owner of the building told deputies he rented a building at the address to a “John ‘J.B.’ Goode,” who had failed to pay rent for the shop for three months, according to court documents.
John Goode is an alias of Bragg’s, detectives say, and while they were at the business, they took reports from multiple people alleging that Bragg had taken their money and not done the work he agreed to do on vehicles they had asked him to restore.
Since October, law enforcement has been trying to speak with Bragg and his girlfriend Melanie Goode, the shop’s owner. One of defrauded customers’ checks was deposited in an account belonging to the business/Goode, court documents show.
The search for Bragg took detectives to West Virginia before he was finally arrested in North Carolina on March 4. Goode was not in North Carolina with Bragg, and detectives believe she is still in West Virginia. While she is not wanted in Johnson County, Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies are looking for her in connection to charges there, officials said earlier this month.
Bragg has not yet been extradited to Johnson County, and is currently in Florida facing criminal charges brought against him there for similar fraudulent activities, Sheriff Duane Burgess said Monday.
Anyone who believes they have encountered wrongful business practices in Indiana is encouraged to file complaints with the Attorney General’s office by going to in.gov/attorneygeneral.