Seven people charged, at least five vehicles seized in Newton st - | WBTV Charlotte

Seven people charged, at least five vehicles seized in Newton street racing ring

John Sparks/WBTV John Sparks/WBTV
NEWTON, NC (WBTV) -

At least five high-end performance vehicles were seized and at least seven people charged in Catawba County in connection with a street racing ring Sunday evening. 

According to troopers with the North Carolina Highway Patrol, a group of people were blocking traffic to race along Highway 321 around 4:30 p.m. in Newton. Troopers said the individuals were creating hazardous conditions for other drivers and nearly caused several wrecks. 

Authorities shut down the highway near Exit 37 to stop the street racing. 

Highway Patrol said five BMWs were racing and those five vehicles were then seized. Two vehicles that were involved in the street racing managed to escape troopers. 

Officials said the vehicles were racing at speeds over 100 mph. 

None of the vehicles that were seized had tags registered in North Carolina. Highway Patrol said the cars are valued over $90,000.

A gold SUV was traveling with the group and filmed the race. Troopers seized the video footage and are in the process of obtaining a search warrant to use the video as evidence. 

Those charged are: 

  • Brennan T. Rowe, 22, of Wayne, N.J. charged with impeding traffic and exceeding posted speed limit
  • Anthony W. Obrien, 20, of Havre de Grace, M.D. charged with impeding traffic and prearranged racing 
  • Hoang T. Nguyen, 44, of Allen, T.X. charged with impeding traffic and prearranged racing
  • Tran Hai Phi, 26, of Jacksonville, F.L. charged with impeding traffic and prearranged racing
  • Haroon Masood, 27, of Philadelphia, P.A. charged with impeding traffic and prearranged racing
  • Tamer Arslanouk, 24, of Waynesville, N.J. charged with impeding traffic
  • Saad Ahmed Gil, 25, of Philadelphia, P.A. charged with impeding traffic and prearranged racing

If found guilty, the drivers will have their licenses suspended for three years. 

Two of the men charged, Rowe and Arslanouk, spoke to WBTV about the incident Monday night. Both believe that the incident was a huge misunderstanding.

Rowe said he and dozens of other people were at a BMW event at a BMW Performance Center in South Carolina over the weekend. He said his company films for various clients across the country.

He said that a convoy of BMWs were driving across the state when a passerby called police about the drivers.

"I'm in a Grand Cherokee not going faster than the speed limit at all. I'm actually angled out the window taking pictures and basically somebody called in and reported 'somebody's hanging out the window recording this alleged speed racing'," said Rowe.

He claims the law enforcement officers pulled the drivers over and unjustly confiscated five of the vehicles. Arslanouk said that 500 GB of media data was also confiscated by law enforcement officers.

Both men adamantly deny any sort of illegal activity was taking place on the roadway.

"We are a media corporation. We are a professional corporation and by no means do we ever record illegal activity," said Arslanouk.

The two men said they would like to see the seized vehicles returned to their owners.

Six of the seven men cited in the incident have hired legal representation, according to Charlotte attorney Adam Seifer from SeiferFlatow, PLLC.

Seifer said he was contacted by one of the drivers Monday. He spoke about the accusations against the men Tuesday.

"They're not charged with speeding which is the odd thing. None of them are charged with speeding," explained Seifer.

He said his clients have maintained that they weren't involved in any legal street racing. He said thus far he hasn't seen any proof that the men are lying.

"In this case I would argue that there is not much evidence to support that they were actually doing that," said Seifer regarding the alleged racing.

He said that his understanding of the situation is that law enforcement officers spent several hours trying to figure out if the men were engaged in any racing. He also said his understanding is that drivers with North Carolina tags were allowed to drive off, but any driver with an out-of-state tag had their car seized. 

Seifer said the seized vehicles are now sitting in an impound lot accruing storage fees. He said he has filed a motion to get the trial date expedited in hopes of saving his clients money.

The attorney said he ultimately hopes to get the charges dropped so the men can get their cars back.

"They're sold at auction if they lose so we can't have that," said Seifer about the vehicles. "These cars are about $100 thousand a piece."

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