AZTEC — Carl Huish, co-owner of scrap metal recycling company CBH Trucking and Salvage, filed a tort claim notice with the county last week accusing a San Juan County Sheriff's deputy of retaliating against him during an investigation into his business.
The tort claim notice alleges that Sheriff's Detective Michael Sindelar failed to properly investigate claims last year that Huish, 76, was dismantling and scrapping vehicles without a state-issued license. The tort claim does not specify what remedy Huish desires.
Sindelar could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
In April 2013 Sindelar told The Daily Times that the purpose of licensing auto salvage businesses is to ensure stolen vehicles or vehicles used to commit crimes are not destroyed.
Huish said he was seeking an attorney to pursue the claims and did not wish to comment on the matter.
Parties seeking redress from government entities are required to send a tort claim notice before filing a lawsuit, according to New Mexico statutes.
According to court records, Huish was charged on July 17, 2013, with five counts of unlicensed vehicle dismantling, a misdemeanor offense.
An arrest warrant affidavit, written by Sindelar, claims that Huish's business, located at 5615 U.S. Highway 64, purchased five vehicles for their scrap metal value on July 18, 2013, despite his not having a permit to do so.
Huish argues in his tort claim that Sindelar initially sought to charge him with five fourth-degree felonies, despite knowing that scrapping without a permit is only a misdemeanor offense. He also claims that the deputy did not properly investigate the claims and intentionally destroyed evidence.
The five counts were dismissed this past July because of evidentiary issues, according to court records.
The July 2013 incident was not Huish's first run-in with the law. He was charged in May 2012 with 223 counts of unlicensed vehicle dismantling after being accused of scrapping hundreds of vehicles, including at least one vehicle alleged to have been stolen, over a period of only four months.
Huish told police he had been buying vehicles for scrap value since the early '90s and admitted he was not licensed. He had pleaded guilty in February 2013 to five misdemeanors and was awaiting sentencing when the new charges were filed. At sentencing, he was ordered to pay $825 in fines and court fees.
Sindelar noted in the arrest warrant affidavit that Carl Huish and his son, Bobby Huish, had been warned on numerous occasions that they needed to obtain a license to scrap vehicles.
San Juan County Deputy Attorney Doug Echols said the claim is being reviewed by the county's risk management department.