For some families, fixing up a project car can be a bonding experience like no other. For others, it’s a dark path toward estrangement and felony charges of forgery and grand theft, as a father in California is finding out the hard way this month.
After buying a 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS over 10 years ago and spending years restoring it with his son Jonathan, 65-year-old John Dovichi finally decided to sell the classic car to a family friend. Bittersweet, yes, but also very illegal; it was his son’s name on the title, and prosecutors allege the elder Dovichi forged Jonathan’s signature to illegally obtain a duplicate pink slip so he could sell the Camaro without his son’s knowledge.
At a hearing in June, Dovichi pleaded not guilty to six felony charges related to the alleged theft, including forgery and grand theft, and he’s currently free on bail. The whole case is also wrapped up in an “ongoing” lawsuit filed by Dovichi against his son, which accuses Jonathan of “fraudulent actions involving the Camaro and various properties.”
According to court documents uncovered by Bakersfield.com, Dovichi bought the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro SS in the early 2000s as a restoration project for he and his son. That squares up with this 2006 profile of the finished build on SuperChevy.com, which details tens of thousands of dollars worth of upgrades the pair had installed. Photos show it’s truly a beautiful car—maybe too beautiful, given what happened next.
Dovichi officially signed the car over to his son in 2008, and on January 11, 2009, Jonathan was given a new title for the Camaro that listed him as the sole owner. He continued to store the car on his father’s property, but when he showed up one fateful day in 2015, it was gone. When he asked his father what happened, Dovichi allegedly replied, “That’s a big boy’s game, I sold it.”
In those same court documents, Bakersfield.com reports Dovichi said that “even if [Jonathan] had the title, it didn’t belong to him because I bought it and put all the money into it.”
Unfortunately for him, that’s not quite how the law works. His son filed a formal complaint with the California DMV last August.
Perhaps the saddest part of this whole saga is a little nugget buried in that SuperChevy.comprofile from more innocent times. Dovichi acknowledged that the build was much more extensive (and expensive) than they originally planned, but he had no regrets because “it brought me and my son closer together.”