Hertz car customers arrested for ‘stolen’ vehicles

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(NewsNation Now) – A New Hampshire man is jailed in Florida after he said Hertz filed a police report falsely accusing him of stealing a rental car. He is one of hundreds of Hertz customers who say the same thing has happened to them.

Recently unsealed bankruptcy documents suggest that Hertz has filed hundreds of such police reports each year. NewsNation previously reported on the nightmarish situations that led customers to sue the rental giant last year. Now a new nightmare situation is developing.

Charles Doucette, a health care consultant from New Hampshire, was arrested aboard a cruise ship last week when police accused him of stealing his Hertz rental car.

NewsNation’s Rich McHugh spoke to him from behind bars in a Florida prison.

“Here I get off a cruise ship and I’m handcuffed, arrested and thrown in jail,” Doucette said. “I have zero criminal record. I’ve never been arrested. It’s just absurd.

Doucette told NewsNation that he rented a car for business in 2020 and extended the rental multiple times. But last March, Arizona police pulled him over and told him Hertz had filed a police report saying the car was stolen.

Hertz charged his credit card nearly $4,000 for the full rental. But Doucette says Arizona prosecutors took him to a grand jury anyway where they indicted him and issued a warrant for his arrest.

“It’s something that ruins my life in my business every day I’m here. There are no words to express how much I miss my home and my dog, and there is nothing I can do about it,” Doucette told McHugh, her voice cracking with emotion. ” I did not do anything wrong. I am innocent, and I am treated as guilty until proven guilty. It’s my worst nightmare that I live in. I won’t have anything when I get out of here. Everything I’ve worked so hard for isn’t just going to be thrown away.

Doucette can’t even post bond to get out of Florida jail because of interstate rules.

Francis Alexander Malfi is Doucette’s attorney, and McHugh asked him, “Your client was taken from an arrested cruise ship, he’s in jail, why can’t he post bail?” Why can’t he get out?

“If you are arrested in another state on the basis of an arrest warrant, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter if you can pay a deposit. You need to be extradited,” said Doucette’s attorney, Francis Alexander Malofiy. “This warrant should never have been issued. He would never have been thrown into the criminal justice system if Hertz’s systems were accurate and if the information they had was in fact true and correct.

Hertz wouldn’t comment on Doucette’s case, but NewsNation found others, like Julius Burnside who sued Hertz, claiming they were falsely arrested, even imprisoned after Hertz said the cars they legitimately rented had been stolen.

“I felt it was a joke…like you guys telling me I got an arrest warrant for something I paid for. It’s not possible,” Burnside told NewsNation last year.

According to the lawsuit, Burnside was released but later missed a court date, which resulted in his re-arrest and detention.

“Several months later, I was forced to sign a plea deal to get out of jail,” Burnside said.

Eventually, a Georgia court ruled that Burnside had in fact paid his rental and dismissed the case entirely.

“Everything has been rejected, overturned. I’m crying. I’m crying now,” Burnside said.

Hertz declined our request for an on-camera interview and would not comment on these cases.

“These cases involve renters who were weeks or even months late returning vehicles and only report to authorities after exhaustive attempts to reach the customer,” Hertz said in a statement to NewsNation.

Malofiy said the statement was only lip service.

“It’s not a case. These are not two cases. It’s hundreds,” Malofiy said.

“Here I sit in jail with my whole life in shambles,” Doucette said. “Anyone who has rented from Hertz or someone who rents from Hertz without even knowing it could be in the same situation as me one day and that is horrifying. It is totally unacceptable.

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