An Ogden City constable says confusion, not racism, is the reason H.C. Massey's truck was impounded over his son's $6 bounced check.
"We don't want to take the guy's property, and this guy, he's trying to turn this into a racial issue," said head constable Paul Larsen. "That's totally ludicrous."Massey, director of the Ogden Community Action Agency, and the Ogden branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have called for an investigation into the reasons the truck was seized.
Massey, who is black, has accused the constables of racism.
But Larsen said his deputies tried five times to serve legal papers to Massey at his home and his office before seizing the truck on May 25.
There also was some confusion over Massey's name, he said. Massey and his son have the same initials, although the younger Massey goes by Herrick while his father goes by H.C.
Larsen said if Massey had answered the door for process servers, his deputies would have learned that the Herrick Massey named in the warrant was Massey's son, not him.
But NAACP Ogden branch President James Gillespie said, "That's not the point. The point is what happens. He took a $24,000 truck."
Deputies who seized the truck were serving a warrant to collect $253 ordered against Herrick Massey over his $6 bounced check. A judgment against Herrick Massey was signed by Salt Lake County Circuit Court Judge Roger A. Livingston on April 22.
Larsen said the writ to seize property wouldn't have existed if Herrick Massey had paid the judgment in court.
"All I can tell you is the facts, and the facts are that we received a writ of execution from Security Adjustment Bureau (a collection agency) telling us to go take certain property," he said.
The truck was returned to Massey last Friday after Weber County Attorney Mark DeCaria intervened. Larsen said DeCaria had a handwriting expert compare signatures to confirm that H.C. Massey, not his son, owned the truck.