INDIANAPOLIS— Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office filed a lawsuit Monday in Johnson County against a Whiteland vehicle restoration shop following a WRTV Investigation into its questionable business practices.
The lawsuit says JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod failed to do the work it promised but also gave false updates to consumers about work that was supposedly in progress.
“As a Volkswagen Thing and Bug enthusiast myself, I understand the love poured into these vehicles by their owners,” Attorney General Rokita said. “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.”
In total, the state’s complaint alleges that 19 consumers paid JB Bugs $227,000 without JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod restoring the consumers’ vehicles or providing any refunds.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit alleges the defendants violated the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act’s prohibition on deceptive and unfair business practices.
The defendants named in the lawsuit are JB Bugs Trick & Truck Shop LLC and Palm Principals LLC — both operating under the name JB Bugs — and owners John Bragg and Melanie Goode, the lawsuit read.
As WRTV Investigates was first to report in 2022, customers paid the shop for restorations, but eventually learned the work was not finished or their vehicles were missing.
The state is seeking restitution for the affected consumers and civil penalties against the defendants.
As WRTV reported, he was arrested earlier this month in North Carolina on fraud and theft charges.
Bragg has not yet returned to Indiana to face charges in Johnson County.
Our WRTV Investigation revealed John Bragg worked at a Whiteland restoration shop JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod and is accused of taking customers’ money but not doing the work or providing vehicles they paid for.
Johnson County prosecutors filed criminal theft and fraud charges against Bragg in October 2022 following our investigation.
WRTV Investigates checked Indiana court records and found John Bragg was also convicted of theft in Johnson County in 2007, and in 2009, convicted of fraud and bigamy in Hancock County.
Records show Melanie Goode registered JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office in January 2022.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office told WRTV in August it has received 30 complaints about JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod.
Diane Kuhn bought a bright yellow 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible from a friend.
“It’s my bucket list car,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn wanted her vehicle restored and took it to a Morristown shop, but partway through the restoration process, the shop was bought out by JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod.
Kuhn said a man named “JB Goode” contacted her and identified himself as the owner of the shop.
“My first contact with JB was July 2021 when he called me,” Kuhn said. “We talked about what I wanted done with the car and he said, 'We can do all the work you're wanting done on your car between $12-$15,000.' I told him to go ahead.”
Kuhn said JB told her they required half the money down as a deposit.
Records show Kuhn paid the shop $10,500.
“We decided to go ahead, that way it was less to come up with later,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn said JB took in her vehicle for restoration in July 2021.
“I left him alone until October,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn said JB told her the vehicle was scheduled to be worked on.
“That was always his excuse — he said, ‘it's on the books, it's on the books, it's on the books,’” said Kuhn.
In a bizarre turn of events, Kuhn said JB took her vehicle to another shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee where it still remains.
"I want my car back,” Kuhn said. “I want it done the way I wanted it done and I want to be able to drive it.”
Kuhn has been waiting for more than a year for her dream car to be finished.
“This has been the worst experience and most drawn-out thing I've ever been involved in,” Kuhn said.
Darci Bell of Bedford bought a 1965 Volkswagen bus with her husband.
Records show she paid JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod $14,000, which was about half of the total cost of the restoration.
“He did not do anything,” Bell said. “We can’t even get ahold of JB.”
Bell said JB also took her vehicle to the Chattanooga shop without her knowledge.
“We just happened to see it when they posted pictures. We saw it in the background,” said Bell. “We were a little aggravated."
Darci Bell grew frustrated with the delays.
“We just kept getting the runaround,” Bell said. “It was just excuse after excuse.”
So, they traveled to Chattanooga to take home their van, and Bell claims it’s in even worse shape now.
She has not received a refund.
“It’s sickening,” Bell said.