Crooked Car Transporter Takes Granny's Honda Hostage

Here's how she beat the racket.

"They screw you with your car?" he asked. (I hadn't said anything about cars.) With sympathy and a smile, the mailman explained that A Blue Knight merely got its mail at a P.O. box in the strip mall's UPS store.

The mailman knew that, he said, because people were always coming around looking for the person who had screwed them out of their vehicles. He said apologetically that he didn't know the company's real address.

Court records listed another location: 22 Bayville Avenue, in Bayville, a few towns farther east on the North Shore. But the building at that address looked as if it had recently burned down. I went to a pizzeria next door, and the guy behind the counter laughed when I asked him about A Blue Knight. "Is that the name they're going by now?" he said. "They change their fuckin' name every year."

Florence Katz
C.S. Muncy
Florence Katz
Sclafani's Bayville office
Steven Thrasher
Sclafani's Bayville office

When I told him the outfit might also be known as A Eastern Connection, he snapped his fingers and said, "That's the one! They're located downtown—just across the street from the fire department." (It turned out that court records list the address as 22 Bayville Avenue, but the actual address is 255 Bayville Avenue.)

"I can't believe they're still in business!" the pizza guy said as I was leaving, adding, "Good luck! He has a magnetic lock on the door so nobody can get in!"

The building housing A Blue Knight mostly just looked like an insurance agent's office. There was no auto yard in sight. The company's name was now "Transportation Specialists."

I tried to open the glass front door, but, true to the pizza guy's word, it was sealed for the owner's protection. People working inside were clearly visible, and eventually, a man I recognized from the Fox 5 consumer-help episodes as Sclafani came to the door.

"Greg's not here," Greg said.

"What about John?"

"No, he's not here, either."

"Who are you?"

"I'm . . . Pete."

"Pete" said he couldn't give me any information or even the name of "Greg's attorney," and slammed the door shut.

I snapped photos of the front of the business. Three employees inside covered their faces and then pulled down the window shades.

Eventually, "Pete" poked his head out again and screamed, "Get off my property! Get the hell off my property!"

"Your property?" I replied. "So you are Greg Sclafani, then?"

"I'll call the cops. I've already called the cops!" he shouted, slamming the door a second time, disappearing behind the drawn shades.

In truth, Florence Katz was more afraid of not getting her car back than of dying. Now she's more than happy to talk about how well everything has turned out. However, she couldn't do it the Monday after her car was returned: "I have to go to the gym," she told me. "I haven't been for ages!" When we finally talked in person a few days later, she said, "I'm not in the shape I used to be in. I used to work out five times a week."

But she's got her car, her meds, and her walker back. And her apartment seems to be back to normal. It looks spiffier now with her little white Mac laptop returned to its rightful place amid the '40s décor.

sthrasher@villagevoice.com

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