A Venice car dealer is accused of refusing to return a trailer to a leasing company that claims to own it.

Star Leasing Co. filed a lawsuit against Bassam Saffaf, doing business as Proud One Auto, July 5 in Madison County Circuit Court.

According to the complaint, Star Leasing previously leased a trailer from Citizens Leasing with the intention of purchasing it at a later date. Star Leasing claims it has since paid Citizens Leasing for the trailer and is currently awaiting transfer of the title. However, in July 2009, Star Leasing says it leased the same trailer to Freight Masters Systems Inc., of Indiana. Five months later Freight Masters allegedly filed for bankruptcy protection and, as of last year, it is no longer in business.

What became of the trailer was unknown, according to Star Leasing, until June 2011 when the company was told the trailer was being held by Proud One on McKinley Avenue. When Star Leasing asked for the trailer to be returned it was allegedly told it had to pay for towing and storage of the trailer. However, since it did not request the towing and storage, Star Leasing claims it is not responsible for those fees and asked Proud One how it came to hold the trailer.

Proud One has allegedly refused to provide documentation as to how it ended up with the trailer and has since stopped taking calls from Star Leasing. The car dealership, owned by Saffaf, has also refused to reply to written requests for information, including leaving some certified letters unclaimed, according to Star Leasing.

Star Leasing is asking for the return of its trailer, allegedly valued at more than $14,000, plus the cost of what it would charge to lease it out --$325 per month and $.04 per mile. The company is also asking to be awarded punitive damages of more than $50,000 plus court costs.

Attorneys Michael Reda and Jason D. Johnson of Edwardsville represent Star Leasing.

Madison County Circuit Court Case No. 12-L-951

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