(NewsNation) — Car rental company Hertz is once again in the limelight for a controversial arrest. A Marine veteran claims the rental car giant falsely accused him of stealing one of their vehicles, which led to him being indicted and spending time behind bars.
The charges against Blake Gober have since been dropped, but the veteran is among many who say they were falsely accused by the rental car company and arrested.
“The easiest way I can describe what I’ve been through is that it was hell. This past year was supposed to be the happiest year of my life,” Gober said.
Gober, a 33-year-old former Marine and political consultant, was set to be married in six weeks when he was unexpectedly arrested.
“I got pulled over for speeding in Louisville, Kentucky. I found out that there was a warrant for my arrest and when I was told that, I was shocked. I had no idea about it, and honestly, the police didn’t have any information for me,” Gober said.
He then spent the next five days sitting in the Louisville Metro Corrections.
The warrant was related to a Hertz rental car Gober said he rented and returned nearly three years earlier in West Virginia.
“My mind went to, ‘Hold it. What do you mean? I returned that vehicle. I returned it,'” Gober explained. “I didn’t remember when I returned it, but I was like, I know I returned that vehicle, and I can tell you exactly where I returned it.”
After explaining to authorities that he had returned the car, his mind then went to how long it would take to clear things up. Gober believed this was all just a simple, albeit “sick” misunderstanding.
But in January, Gober was indicted for theft of a rental vehicle and grand larceny, facing 12 years in prison if convicted.
“Every day from last October until earlier this month, I would sit up in bed at night thinking, ‘What’s going to happen?’ I didn’t know whether 12 strangers were going to believe the truth or not,” Gober said.
Gober lost hours of sleep over this past year. He promised himself he would stop at nothing to clear his name, especially after what Hertz had said and done to him.
The Marine veteran is not alone.
Last year, hundreds of Hertz customers sued the company for mental and emotional damages, claiming they were falsely arrested and even jailed because Hertz filed police reports saying the cars they legitimately rented were stolen.
Some of these accused were even held at gunpoint.
Julius Burnside was arrested and spent seven months in jail before a Georgia court ruled he had in fact paid for his rental. The court overturned the case entirely.
“Everything was dismissed, overturned. I cried,” Burnside said.
In February 2022, Hertz testified in federal court and admitted it had falsely reported some of their customers for stealing vehicles.
Hertz released a statement to NewsNation regarding Gober’s case. It reads, in full:
“Almost four years ago, in 2019, Mr. Gober rented a car from Hertz for one day. He kept the car for over three months without payment. Hertz reached out repeatedly to Mr. Gober regarding its car, including by email, texts, phone calls, and certified mail. Mr. Gober ignored all of Hertz’s outreach, save one phone call during which he hung up on a Hertz representative when asked to return the vehicle. Ultimately, Hertz reported its car stolen.”
In Gober’s case, his rental agreement shows he rented a Nissan Versa and his indictment said he had rented a Nissan Sentra. The original police report cites information relayed from a Hertz employee, saying Gober rented a Nissan Sentra.
“Blake was criminally charged and thereafter criminally indicted for renting and failing to return a Nissan Sentra. The problem with [Hertz’s] argument is that Blake never rented a Nissan Sentra at all,” attorney Wes Prince said.
The rental company reported the wrong car stolen, police documents show.
In response to a question from NewsNation, Hertz said, “Gober’s rental was a Nissan Versa. Every piece of information Hertz provided to law enforcement, including the theft package and rental agreement, is consistent in that it was a Versa. The Sentra reference was likely a typo by law enforcement.”
Prince reacted to Hertz blaming the misinformation on a typo, saying, “The police report indicates that Hertz told the police Mr. Gober rented and failed to return a Nissan Sentra. This is patently false. As a result of Hertz’s lies to the police, Mr. Gober was indicted for stealing a vehicle he never rented. Now Hertz is attempting to blame law enforcement for their mistakes. Shame on Hertz.”
He continued, “Considering Hertz’s history of duping law enforcement into filing false criminal charges against individuals like Mr. Gober, Hertz has no one to blame but themselves. It appears Hertz’s systemic issues, abhorrent inventory control, and willingness to prosecute innocent people are continuing under Mr. Stephen Scherr’s leadership. Hertz needs to stop hurting people.”
Last month, the West Virginia court threw out the charges against Gober, saying that the state had “lost confidence in the reliability of the information provided by the victim that forms the basis of these felony charges.”
Gober said he now thinks Hertz needs to apologize to its falsely accused victims, and admit the company messed up.
“They need to fix this,” Gober said.