OKLAHOMA CITY — As a youngster, Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens scratched his name in wet concrete in the driveway of his grandmother's Oklahoma house.
Now the man who owns the century-old home is pursuing theft and vandalism charges against the 81-year-old billionaire, saying workers for Pickens came to the house recently without permission and removed the concrete slab with the well-known name.
David McCart, who bought the two-story, 17-room home in Holdenville nearly 20 years ago — partly because of Pickens' signature — said he went to the property to mow the grass on June 22 and noticed the 3-by-5-foot slab was missing.
"It's really the arrogance of it that bothers me," McCart said Tuesday. "They just cut the whole section out."
McCart said he filed a theft and vandalism report with local police the next day and wants to pursue criminal charges against Pickens. Although the missing concrete was replaced, he said the removal left cracks and damaged his driveway.
Holdenville Police Chief Jerry Young, who would make a decision about recommending charges, didn't immediately return a call for comment.
Carved in cement
Neighbors told McCart three men in a truck with Texas tags used cement saws and pry bars to remove the slab last month and loaded it into the truck bed. The house currently is vacant, but McCart said he planned to rent it out.
Pickens previously purchased his boyhood home in Holdenville, which was adjacent to McCart's property, and moved it to his Texas ranch.
Jay Rosser, a spokesman for Pickens, said the section of concrete was removed when Pickens was in town recently to inspect enhancements to a family plot at a local cemetery. Holdenville, a town of 4,700 people, is 75 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.
"He carved his name in that cement 70 years ago, in his grandmother's driveway," the statement said. "It means a lot to him, and is now with his childhood home which has been carefully restored and relocated to his ranch in the Texas Panhandle to help commemorate his Oklahoma roots."
Rosser declined to answer further questions about the incident and did not say who actually removed the slab.
'A private matter'
McCart said he suspects the property belongs to the city since the section of driveway is located between the sidewalk and the street.
"I understand the city has the right to do it if they need to repair pipes or something like that," McCart said. "But it was not a city crew that was in there doing it."
Rosser did not say whether anyone received permission from the city to remove the slab.
Ken Chestnut, an attorney for the city, said he's not sure if anyone sought permission to remove the slab. But it's "a private matter between the parties" and the city does not need to get involved, Chestnut said.
Rosser said Pickens is open to commemorating his history in Holdenville through some sort of historical marker or other initiative. "We are clearly open to any thoughts the McCarts might have regarding how to best commemorate his association there for their purposes," he said.
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