Manteca police seek criminal charges against car dealership

MANTECA — Police are seeking criminal charges against two employees at a car dealership that sold a new truck to a wheelchair-bound man with dementia who died later that day.

Sgt. Ralph Colin said that detectives concluded their investigation into Cabral Western Motors and forwarded it to the San Joaquin County district attorney’s office. He confirmed that the report suggests criminal charges of financial elder abuse against two people, but he could not say who they are because charges are pending.

The investigation arose after 67-year-old Donald Davis bought a new Dodge Ram pickup Oct. 28. It’s not clear where Davis, who also suffered heart trouble and lived at the Manteca Care and Rehabilitation Center, went after that but he later led officers on a high-speed chase near Pleasanton. He died later that night at a hospital, before his family could make it to his side.

Colin said no charges are being sought against the care home, where Davis apparently was missing for 90 minutes before his sister came to visit him and couldn’t find him.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau said his office is reviewing the case and hasn’t filed charges yet.

Davis’ widow, Janet, said she is working with an attorney to sue both Cabral and Manteca Rehabilitation and Care Center for wrongful death and negligence, respectively.

“Both of them have failed as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “The rest home probably not quite as maliciously as Cabral.”

The Department of Motor Vehicles also is investigating. Spokesman Armando Botelo said Friday his office’s work is in its initial stages. The DMV licenses all car dealers and could take action ranging from imposing a fine to closing a dealership found to have broken the law.

Cabral sales general manager Bob Bronken said Friday the dealership is awaiting the results of the police investigation and did not have a comment at this time.

Larry Huffman, manager of the care home, could not be reached. Earlier, he said he could not comment on the matter.

Janet Davis said she probably will never know what transpired between her husband and the dealership the day he died. But she knows that someone picked up Donald Davis, clad in pajamas and slippers, from in front of the care home and took him to the Cabral lot, where he drove away in the new truck less than two hours later.

He had been arranging for the purchase of the truck for a couple weeks; an earlier attempt to get picked up at the care home by taxi failed when the driver came in to ask care home staff if it was OK.

“I also got in the mail yesterday a notice that they did a credit search on my husband on the 26th of October,” Janet Davis said. “They will check the credit but they wouldn’t think of checking with me under the circumstances.”

Those circumstances include the return of two other vehicles to Cabral in the last year due to the family’s financial troubles.

“My main outcome is to make sure that something like this does not happen again,” Janet Davis said. “I think the rights of my husband were violated and he was taken advantage of. There were so many signals that they should have checked a little bit further.”