Are Fullerton cops involved in a vehicle towing scam?
The answer is yes, according to a Jan. 13 lawsuit filed by Rowland Heights-based Safeway Towing Services, Inc. [DBA Bob's Towing].
In the seven-page suit, company lawyer Neil C. Evans of Sherman Oaks claims that cops began to systematically harass and intimidate its drivers after the company tried in 2010 to break a competitor's lucrative city towing monopoly with the police department.
As evidence of the harassment, Evans said police issued “more than 40 frivolous tickets” to the company's tow truck drivers in the months after January 2010, when the company notified the city that it was interested in seeking a city towing contract.
The current city contract is with P & H Enterprises. [DBA Fullerton Towing Company], which–according to government records–received its contract in 1964.
lawsuit claims that prior to Bob's Towing showing an interest in
competing for vehicle towing services, Fullerton officials
never launched a public bidding process.
changed in January 2011, when the city, looking to cover $250,000 in
administrative costs, released a Request for Proposals [RFP] for
qualified agencies to enter a competitive bidding process.
Oddly, the process has lingered on without resolution.
wrote in the lawsuit that Bob's Towing spent more than $450,000 to
establish a physical location in Fullerton, but that the police
“embarked on a campaign of harassment” to discourage it from attempting
to compete for the contract.
Officers cited the company's
drivers for driving off city-approved truck routes, despite the fact
that the drivers were in legal route for service calls for
lawsuit, Bob's Towing lost several drivers because of blemished driving
records and fear of further police harassment and intimidation. The complaint also cites two officers, including Cpl. Leonard Ledbetter, for turning off their body microphones during the frivolous stops to issue threatening statements.
City officials have not yet filed a response.
The case has been assigned to Orange County Superior Court Judge John C. Gastelum.
(R. Scott Moxley contributed to this report.)