In his campaign to win a seat as a circuit court judge, Victor De Yurre has pointed to his wide range of experience as a Miami city commissioner, a civil lawyer, and a traffic magistrate. One job he hasn't mentioned, though, has been his most recent: owning a shop that sells specialty rims and tires for Miami-Dade's flyest rides.
There just might be good reason for that. Turns out De Yurre's custom rim shop, Wheels Next, has been hit with a flurry of lawsuits and customer complaints alleging that the company owes hundreds of thousands of dollars and routinely stiffs buyers.
De Yurre denies knowing anything about the lawsuits but admits "there have been some disputes." He adds he isn't involved in the day-to-day operations of the company, except for occasional meetings with suppliers and vendors.
The 59-year-old barrister has owned Wheels Next since 2009, when he took over from his son Anthony. Almost immediately, the lawsuits started.
In 2009, Country Well Ltd., a Chinese alloy wheel manufacturer, sued the firm for an outstanding debt of $186,000 over parts that had been delivered in October 2008. The case was dismissed for lack of prosecution. The same year, Charisma Investment Co. sued Wheels Next in a landlord-tenant dispute. A judge found in favor of the landlords in 2010.
This year, Wheels Next has been sued twice in a three-month span. The first suit came in May courtesy of FedEx, alleging in a federal civil case that De Yurre's company owes more than $194,000 in shipping costs. In July, another landlord-tenant dispute was filed in Miami-Dade court when PSBP Industrial, a real estate firm, also filed suit. Both cases remain open.
Civil action isn't the only concern for Wheels Next, though. Customers have repeatedly lambasted the company for slow delivery, poor service, and shoddy merchandise. The Better Business Bureau has logged 219 complaints against Wheels Next in the past three years, giving the company an "F" rating and stripping its BBB accreditation.
The most common issue, according to the BBB: "Our files contain a pattern of complaints from consumers alleging that after placing orders with Wheels Next Inc., they do not receive their ordered items."
Perhaps all the bad press has caught up with Wheels Next. The main phone number seems to be disconnected. De Yurre says his company "hasn't made a lot of money."
As for De Yurre's race for judgeship, he'll find out after Tuesday's primary election if he'll be wearing black robes. So far, he's outraised his opponent, Teresa Mary Pooler, by $40,000.