Michael Romero, the owner of a local auto shop, is facing a second case in which prosecutors allege that he has beaten up someone who owes him money.
However, Romero contends that in both cases, he was acting in self-defense against troublemakers.
Romero, 32, owner of Michael’s Precision Automotive, 514 Commerce St., was charged last week with aggravated battery and unlawful taking of a motor vehicle in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred last fall.
He said that he has been informed that both cases against him have been dismissed, although there was no such indication in the files of Magistrate Court. He said the Optic should consider the backgrounds of the alleged victims, saying they have a history of wrongdoing. He called one a “gangbanger.”
“They assaulted me first in every matter. I was defending myself,” he said.
Romero called himself a legitimate businessman who has been the victim of some of his customers. He said he has received much support in the community, especially among business people, since an Optic story appeared last month about the first set of charges.
“I don’t appreciate people writing stuff about business people. This hasn’t affected my business one bit. They (readers) don’t know the whole story,” he said. “I don’t think it’s newsworthy.”
On Sept. 6, a 19-year-old man told police that he was at Pecos Street and University Avenue when two men drove up. The teen alleged that Romero got out and struck him repeatedly as he still sat in the car.
The alleged victim said Romero told him that he still owed money on his car, according to a police report. Romero reached in, took the keys and drove off with the car, the report states.
The alleged victim admitted that he owed $400 on the car. Police later found that Romero took off with the alleged victim’s sister’s car, according to a report. They later found it on Romero’s property, officials said.
The district attorney’s office has been investigating the matter for months.
In July, Romero was accused of attacking another man who owed him money for car repairs, according to a complaint filed in Magistrate Court.
The man said he didn’t have the money and that he wasn’t employed. Romero asked him to go with him to his office at Michael’s Precision to sign a contract for a payment plan. The alleged victim went with Romero.
When they arrived at the office, the man sat down, but Romero started to attack him, the report stated. Romero allegedly punched the man in the face and knocked him down to the floor and kneed him in the head, face and ribs. He then pulled a handgun with a pearl-colored handle from behind his waistband, police said.
Romero said it was a serious manner and that he didn’t mind going to prison if he had to shoot the alleged victim, the complaint stated. He also reportedly told the man that things would get worse if he reported the incident to police, and added that the bill had gone up from what he has originally charged.
Romero allegedly told the man that he would have to work for free cleaning the shop every Saturday in payment for the debt. He then told the alleged victim to clean the blood from himself, and he gave the man a ride back to the tattoo shop.
The man reported the matter to the police, and the authorities charged Romero with kidnapping, extortion, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and intimidation of a witness.
A preliminary hearing in the matter was delayed last week.
Romero said he has done much to help the community, noting that he is a Little League coach and donates to charitable organizations and events. He called Las Vegas a “rough town,” explaining why people have attacked him.
Romero said he has helped many people who are struggling to make their payments. He said many older people have been “religious” about paying him, but a few younger people have been problems for him.
“I’ve been more than nice to a lot of people,” he said. “I call and try to be nice, but nothing works. I help people, but this is the thanks I get.”