BMV commissioner facing possible contempt of court charge for failing to provide documents

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INDIANAPOLIS — The commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles faces possible charges of contempt for failing to provide documents in a class action law suit.

A Marion County judge ordered Don Snemis on Wednesday to explain why the state agency hasn't handed over the documents by the court-ordered deadline of Sept. 29. The order followed a motion filed by an Indianapolis-based law firm two days prior that asked the judge to intervene.

"A year ago, we asked for the very specific documents that implicated the BMV in the overcharging of millions of Hoosiers by millions of dollars. The BMV went a year without giving it to us. Finally, 60 days ago, the judge said no: You must give the plaintiffs all of these documents before September 29. They haven't done that," attorney Irwin Levin, of Cohen & Malad LLP, which is representing the motorists involved in the lawsuit.

The law firm alleges the BMV is concealing information that could prove it overcharged millions of motorists through unauthorized license fees.

"Obviously the BMV thinks they can keep things secret even after the court has ordered them to produce them to the public," said Levin. "It is really outrageous conduct, especially when it's coming from our own government."

The plaintiffs are seeking about 60,000 emails, meeting minutes and other records from the BMV. They hope the documents will confirm testimony from former director Matthew Foley, who said he warned top officials about the overcharges two years before they were acknowledged.

An attorney for the BMV says it didn't violate the judge's court order and isn't trying to hide anything. He said the agency needs a few more weeks to finish compiling the documents.

"The BMV is producing everything that is responsive and not privileged within that scope," said BMV attorney Wayne Turner. "But, the discovery called for 60,000 documents and hundreds of thousands of pages. It takes time to do that work. We're about 80 percent of the way done with that now. So, we requested additional time."

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