by John MacCormack
With a 6.2-liter supercharged aluminum engine, a late-model Z06 Corvette can generate 650 horsepower and hit 60 mph in under three seconds.
But the maroon 2016 model that belongs to Charlie Thrash, a San Antonio millionaire at the middle of an acrimonious guardianship battle, isn’t burning much rubber these days.
Instead, it’s stashed somewhere in Junction, 115 miles to the northwest. It’s in a garage owned by Phil Ross, the lawyer for Laura Martinez, who was briefly Thrash’s wife.
The guardian of Thrash’s estate, Tonya Barina, and her lawyer, Karen Andersen, who are charged with securing his assets, say they have been stumped in attempts to recover the Corvette, which is worth $113,000 new.
No one seems to have the keys, the garage in Junction is allegedly inaccessible to a wrecker and Ross has been less than cooperative, according to Andersen.
“There seems to be an obstacle at every turn. And I guess we’re reluctant to spend $1,500 (on a wrecker) to go out there and find that we can’t bring it out,” she said. “Our position is going to be that Mr. Ross was a party to taking the vehicle out there, so he can bring it back on his own dime.”
Ross said any attempt to burden him with getting the car back is a waste of time.
“Not only do I not have responsibility, I don’t have the ability to bring it back,” he said. “I’m not authorized to drive the car, and I don’t have a key for the car.”
Thrash, 81, was the longtime owner of CT Thrash Differential & Axle Services on West Avenue, a specialty repair shop that closed this year.
The flashy Corvette was just one of the gems in his collection, which also included a 1966 Ford Shelby Mustang, various Fords from the 1930s and classic motorcycles.
After a complaint was made to Adult Protective Services about Martinez’s treatment of Thrash, an investigation ensued. He eventually was found to be mentally incapacitated and in 2017 was placed under the care of guardians by Bexar County Probate Court.
His estate is worth at least $3 million, and Martinez, who says she began dating him in 2012, says she is the sole heir.
In recent months, the legal battle between Martinez, 54, who is accused of exploiting and manipulating him, and the court-appointed guardians has intensified.
Last month, Martinez was briefly married to Thrash until Probate Judge Oscar Kazen annulled the union on the grounds that Thrash, being incapacitated, could not make such a serious life-changing decision.
On March 6, Thrash was removed from the home in Shavano Park he shared with Martinez, after Mary Werner, his personal guardian, became fearful for his safety. He is now staying with a relative.
On March 13, after complaints from Andersen, Kazen granted a temporary restraining order that was directed at Ross and members of the Martinez family.
Among Andersen’s complaints was that Martinez had ignored her requests to deliver “all motor vehicles, all associated keys, all titles and the locations of all vehicles titled in (Thrash’s) name.”
In asking for court intervention, Andersen cited “threats and aggression” from Martinez family members.
Ross and the Martinez family were ordered to refrain from having possession of any of Thrash’s property, committing fraud against Thrash, interfering with his two guardians, coming within 500 feet of Thrash and various other acts.
Ross, 69, who has been remonstrated by two judges recently for his conduct in the case, is attempting to have Kazen removed from the case. A hearing on his motion to recuse Kazen will be heard today.
Ross claims that it was Thrash’s decision to take his prize roadster to Junction and that he merely provided a secure garage.
“I was out there about a month ago, and Laura and Charlie showed up in the Corvette. He asked me if he could park it there. He wanted it there to drive Laura around the Hill Country,” Ross said.
“I’ve never had a key to the car, and I didn’t drive it out there,” added Ross, who said he is willing to meet the guardians in Junction.
“I’ll let them in the building, and they can drive the car out,” he added.
Barina, who has spoken to Thrash about his Corvette, said he wants it back in San Antonio.
“Charlie told me that Laura has two keys. She has told me otherwise,” Barina said.
Andersen said she intends to ask Kazen to resolve the Corvette impasse.
“We’re certainly going to bring it up in court. I don’t know what the court’s position will be,” she said.