Washington Tire: The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Tire Review Magazine

Washington Tire: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

So you thought the Washington Tire Corp. (aka American Tire Corp, Colorado Tire Corp., et al) saga was over?

You guessed that since the Port of Ephrata canceled the deal that we’d never hear of it again?

Well, you were wrong. WTC and all of the characters in this off-Broadway production just keep giving and giving and giving.

Yes, the Port of Ephrata canceled its land sale deal with WTC and Abraham Hengyucius (aka Abe Hengyucius, aka Abraham Zhang, aka Hengyu Zhang). And early reports indicated that the Port was going to simply refund to WTC and Abe the $40,000 of earnest money put down on the proposed $970,000 land buy.

Well, that changed when the Port sued WTC et al in Grant County (Washington) Superior Court seeking to formally end the land sale deal. And the Port has asked that the earnest money be placed in the court’s control until the whole mess could be sorted out.

Meanwhile, the finally-on-the-ball Columbia Basin Herald reported on Oct. 1 that Port officials received an unexpected call from a Canadian company – USA Tire Marketing – which held an outstanding $1.5 million judgment against WTC. According to its website, USA Tire Marketing is based in Quebec and offers OTR and medium truck tires. Details on the purported judgment are not known, but the call was made as the Port was deciding just what to do about Abe and WTC.

Additionally, the Port also discovered that while WTC was legally incorporated in Washington state, its “agent” was listed as being Ruslana Kozmech. Abe was listed as chairman, with other officers listed as: Dick Boyce, president; Greg Baxley, vice president; Rich Walpole, vice president; Larry Angell, vice president; Beth Hodgson, vice president; Tracy Engels, secretary; and Ruslana Kozmech, treasurer.

But there is more!

Among a pile of materials sent to me over the past few weeks, there was a business license issued by the state of Washington to an “American Tire Corporation,” with a listed Post Office Box in Gig Harbor, Wash.

On that business license was a list of “registered trade names,” which included: American Tire Corp, ATC, Colorado Tire Corp., Goldmine Tire Corp., United States Tire Corp., U.S. Tire Corp., and Washington Tire Corp.

You’ll recall that Abe and Company had previously been enjoined from using the American Tire Corp. name as a result of losing a lawsuit to American Tire Distributors. That hasn’t apparently been an issue for Abe and Company, though, as he even continued to use its old ATC logo (also illegal under terms of the lawsuit with ATD) on his Colorado Tire website. Over the past two weeks, though, that site has disappeared.

And there is still more!

According to Grant County Journal reporter Steven Smith, even a few days after the Port met, Abe claimed he had not learned of the Port’s cancellation of the land deal, and was taken aback by the whole matter. “Hengyucius was reached by telephone at a number listed for a Tacoma group known as the Washington State EB-5 Fund, and said that he had not been informed of the commission’s vote,” Smith reported.

“He was also quick to deny that he goes by the name Hengyu Zhang, and said that he discussed the situation with Seattle real estate attorney Leroy Brettin ‘several days ago.’”

Brettin had been retained by WTC when the incorporation issue and Abe’s involvement in the “Washington State EB-5 Fund” surfaced.

“We will check into the situation,” Abe was quoted as saying. “But I have no idea what is going on there. My name isn’t related to the project itself. We are working on the project. We haven’t changed our minds about it. We will check into this and find a resolution.”

You’ll recall that Abe had previously been enjoined from representing himself as an EB-5 agency (see “Abe Zhang and the Curse of the Forked Tongue”).

Still, those are the very first words he has spoken publicly about the whole kerfuffle since, well, forever.

Apparently, too, the Port’s exit from the deal wasn’t as elegant as it was first made to appear. As Smith reported, When Port officials never received information it had requested of WTC and Abe (regarding its corporate status and Abe’s real identity), legal counsel Katherine Kenison was called in.

“Kenison presented the commission with a report outlining three options to move forward…The board could have continued to pursue the sale; terminate the agreement and make an effort to retain the earnest money; or terminate and return the funds to WTC.

“Making the decision to end the sale and return WTC’s money came after a 15-minute executive session. Commission chair Karen Moore described the situation as ‘a tangled process, but it’s good to be assured that there can be no lien against the Port.’

“’I’m sorry that this has ended in futility after two years of working with Washington Tire, but I think we did our best. It just wasn’t meant to be,’ Moore said. ‘If he isn’t who he says he is, we move on.’”

That is until the Port decided to file a formal suit.

There is more. Lots more, based on information we have received. We will continue to look into the odds and ends of this story, but suffice it to say there will be no $1 billon tire plant built in Washington – or anywhere for that matter – anytime soon.

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