Classic Muscle Goes Broke And Shuts Its Doors Once Again
The focus of a recent NewsChannel 5 investigation is now out of business.
Classic Muscle, a company that specialized in restoring old cars, has now shut its doors.
And the owner of the company sits in jail.
Last month, consumer investigator Jennifer Kraus exposed how Mike Nezer did business here in Nashville. Then he moved his business to Robertson County. And she's discovered, he's got a bunch of angry customers there now too.
One after another, customers arrived to pick up their cars from Classic Muscle in Greenbrier. And, no one was happy about it.
Customer David Lodge had driven from Shelbyville to get his car.
"I'm very angry," Lodge told NewsChannel5.
And, Renate Von Koeppen from Clarksville felt the same way, saying, "We're quite upset."
Those thoughts were echoed by country music singer Jo Dee Messina who was also at the Robertson County business.
Messina told NewsChannel5, "I'm bummed because I'm out five grand and I know there's a lot of people who'd come here and they're out fifteen, twenty-five, thirty, forty grand."
Messina had brought a '57 Ford Thunderbird to Classic Muscle for some engine work. She'd received the car as a gift from her record label after an album went double platinum.
She recalls, "They surprised me with this car."
Messina says the owner of Classic Muscle assured her he would have the car running again.
But she wound up having it have it towed home after she and other customers were told Classic Muscle had run out of money and was out of business.
Customers were told to come get their cars even though the work they'd paid for hadn't been done.
David Lodge walked around his brother's 69 Dodge Charger and pointed out all of the work that was still unfinished.
"The motor's missing out of it. All of the interior's missing out of it. All of the glass, " he said.
And Renate Von Koeppen filled her pick up truck with boxes of car parts, parts that she'd paid to have installed on her vintage vehicle.
"Twenty-one thousand dollars. And now we have to start all over and find somebody else to do it, " she explained with frustration in her voice.
Mike Nezer, the man who ran Classic Muscle, did the same thing more than a year ago when he ran a similar car restoration company in Nashville and it too went belly up.
"He is not a man to be trusted, " says James Hill.
Hill and dozens of other customers in Nashville found themselves suddenly out several hundred thousand dollars and left with cars that still needed a lot of work.
Last month, Hill showed NewsChannel5 the shell of a car he got back from Mike Nezer.
"I've got no windshield. I've got no rear windshield. No interior, no hood."
Last month, Nezer did not want to talk when NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed how his Nashville company went bankrupt.
He told Kraus, "Do not come on my property."
The company's downfall began after Nezer was arrested in Florida and his business partner said he discovered Nezer had stolen the company's money.
Jo Dee Messina remembers watching that first story.
"My husband and I are sitting at home and I'm like, 'Is that place that has my car?' And, I said, 'You've got to be kidding me, '" Messina recalls.
She says she then started worrying that history might repeat itself.
And now it appears that it has.
Nezer has now been arrested in Kentucky and his assistant at Classic Muscle says she's discovered more than a quarter of a million dollars is missing from the company.
Tesha Nicholson tells NewsChannel5 that when she looked at the Classic Muscle's books, "I was floored."
Kraus asked Nicholson, "And you have no idea where that money is?"
She replied, "No. No. Because the bank accounts that I've seen, it's not in there."
Employees, like Jimmy Clark, say they haven't been paid.
Clark says of Nezer, "Man talks a good game, a very good game. He suckers people. He suckered us along with the customers."
And customers feel cheated.
David Lodge told NewsChannel 5 as he watched as his brother's unfinished car was loaded on the back of a tow truck, "I wish I could get my hands on Mike Nezer right now."
Customers say Mike Nezer should be punished, because doing what he's done to customers once is one thing. But two times, they say, is too much.
Jo Dee Messina adds, "I just think it's wrong that somebody that has hurt so many people is not being held accountable at this point."
It was Mike Nezer's policy to have customers pay for their work up front in full.
And at this point, it looks like those customers won't be getting any sort of refund for the work they paid for that he didn't do.
He's been in jail now for more than a month in Kentucky. He was arrested for writing a bad check worth nearly 40 thousand dollars and hasn't been able to come up with the money so far to make bond.
Mike Nezer is also facing federal fraud charges stemming from to another company he ran here in Nashville called Stencilco. He's scheduled to go on trial on those charges next month.