Texas plumber sues after truck sold to terrorists
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - A Galveston County plumber is suing Charlie Thompson Ford AutoNation, after the truck he traded to them was sold to terrorists in Syria.
The lawsuit is the newest development this week in a situation that started last year.
"I've been in business 32 years and probably traded in 20 -30 trucks none of my trucks ever ended up in Syria but this one," said Mark Oberholtzer, owner of Mark-1 Plumbing, Inc.
In December of 2014, Mark Oberholtzer was notified that a truck he had traded to Charlie Thompson Ford of AutoNation was seen in Syria loaded with terrorists firing machine guns.
"I really, truly and first thought it was just a friend of mine making fun photo shopping," said Oberholtzer. "And then that's when all of the phone calls started, people's coming by, FBI, Homeland Security, then I realized it wasn't a joke."
Oberholtzer told FOX that this past weekend he has received hundreds of calls threatening him and his family.
"Calling us terrorists, a lot of them I think it's Arabic screaming through the phone in Arabic," he said. "Even a lot of regular people calling us terrorists. How in the world could I give that truck and support the terrorists?"
Oberholtzer's attorney, Craig Eiland, said there is a one million dollar lawsuit pending against AutoNation.
"He is not the one responsible for the truck being sold with the decals on it," said Eiland. "And that's why he's trying to stop it and say look AutoNation is the one who sold this vehicle that ended up in terrorists hands."
Oberholtzer said the salesman that day told him he did not have to remove the decals and that he trusted the dealership to remove his company's logos prior to reselling his truck. But that didn't happen. According to Eiland the truck was sold at a Texas auto auction on Nov. 13 th 2013. He said it was then exported from Houston and imported to Mersin, Turkey.
A photo taken by Caleb Weiss of The Long War Journal went viral in 2014. It showed Oberholtzer's truck, with his company logo and phone number on it, loaded with terrorists firing weapons.
"We were told by FBI and Homelenad Secuity to protect ourselves and watch our surroundings and that's what we've done," said Oberholtzer's . "We're armed and I mean we just have to watch ourselves."
But he said that it is hard to not fear for his family when new photos of his truck surface in Syria.
"Every three months something happens. If ISIS does something it's pulled back on our account. The Internet has no eraser."
Oberholtzer said he hopes the lawsuit brings justice to what he believes the negligence AutoNation initially had when they didn't move his company's decal. He said after thirty-two years of being Mark-1 Plumbing Inc., he doesn't plan on changing his company's name. He wants the country to know that he does not support terrorism.