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Owner of East Aurora engine shop charged with bilking customers

Billy Leverentz, the owner of an East Aurora high-performance automotive engine shop, stole thousands of dollars from racing enthusiasts by billing them for work he never performed, State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman alleged Tuesday in a lawsuit.

And when Leverentz, whose business at 391 Olean Road is called “Billy Leverentz Racing Engines,” performed work, it was often shoddy, according to Schneiderman, who obtained an order from State Supreme Court Justice Jeremiah J. Moriarity III freezing Leverentz’s bank accounts and blocking him from taking money in advance for work for customers.

“The fact that Leverentz took advantage of those who invested their hard-earned money into pursuing a passion is just plain wrong,” Schneiderman said. “By filing this suit, we are making it clear that those who prey upon trusting New Yorkers seeking to upgrade their vehicles will be held accountable.”

In one of the alleged misdeeds, Leverentz accepted $3,500 to install a $30,000 engine in a vintage Corvette, but instead of installing the engine, he gave it away to settle a debt. In a case of shoddy workmanship, Schneiderman said, a customer paid Leverentz thousands of dollars to upgrade an engine for his drag racer “only to have the engine explode after only three runs.”

Leverentz, in taking cash for work he never performed, would turn around and issue refunds to other customers, the attorney general said, adding that Leverentz accepted money for parts and then never ordered them.

“Leverentz even removed parts from engines he was repairing and installed them on other engines,” Schneiderman said.

Several efforts to reach Leverentz at different phone numbers for his business were unsuccessful.

A court order barring Leverentz from conducting business in the state unless he posts a $100,000 bond also is being sought. In the lawsuit, the attorney general is seeking refunds for customers and civil penalties against Leverentz under state consumer protection laws.

“To avoid falling victim to unscrupulous business owners like Leverentz,” Schneiderman said, customers should not pay large amounts of money in advance for future work. “They should negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job, and never pay the full price up front.”

Anyone with complaints against Leverentz is asked to call the attorney general’s consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or Schneiderman’s Buffalo Regional Office, 853-8400.

email: lmichel@buffnews.com