NEW YORK A retired New York City sergeant who won a court battle to secure his "GETOSAMA" vanity license plate said on Wednesday he's trading it for "GOTOSAMA" to mark the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden.
"It's my way of saying thank you to the troops and everything they sacrificed in order to bring this about," said Arno Herwerth, 46, of Hauppauge.
Herwerth in 2007 first got a license plate reading "GETOSAMA" out of irritation that the Al Qaeda leader was still at large after the September 11 attacks.
"I was trying to bring awareness," he said. "I was getting frustrated over the years with that murderer getting away with it and not being captured."
But the state initially declined to give him the vehicle plate because it could be deemed as "derogatory to a particular ethnic group." Herwerth took legal action shortly thereafter and won the right to get the plate.
After Sunday's announcement that U.S. forces shot and killed bin Laden in Pakistan, Herwerth on Monday tried to secure a plate reading "GOTOSAMA." A computer error on the state's Department of Motor Vehicle's site initially prevented him from doing so but now there are no barriers to getting the plate, said DMV spokeswoman Jackie McGinnis said.
"He has since been in touch with our office and he's going to get his plates," she said. "There should be no problem with it."
Herwerth said he was toying around with the idea of getting a license plate saying "GETGADFY" referencing Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's brutal dictator, but will probably stick with his new Osama one for now.
(Reporting by Aman Ali; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Jerry Norton)