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  • I guess I'm the only one willing to post it...

    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/new...6?OpenDocument



    Federal authorities broke their silence on the investigation of St. Louis

    impound lots Tuesday with an extensive raid and a public plea for help.

    FBI and IRS agents served search warrants at the offices of St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, which had a lucrative contract with police to tow and store impounded vehicles.

    The FBI also posted an Internet survey this week seeking information about the company. The FBI wants anyone towed in the past five years to let them know about their experience.

    Federal investigators have been looking into the St. Louis Police Department's relationship with the towing company, which has impounded tens of thousands of vehicles during the past decade.


    The controversy already has forced Police Chief Joe Mokwa to retire.

    Although reluctant to discuss specifics, John Gillies, head of the FBI's St. Louis office, confirmed Tuesday that agents were "talking to a lot of people" as part of the investigation.

    The raid and survey come three weeks after the controversy became public — with St. Louis city police officials admitting that Mokwa's daughter and unnamed officers were given free use of vehicles owned by the towing company or its sales arm, Parks Auto Sales.

    Mokwa initially said he didn't know about the freebies until this spring, when the Post-Dispatch began asking questions. But the newspaper uncovered that his daughter's use of the cars dated to at least 2002 and that Parks sold her three vehicles at prices well below wholesale value.

    Mokwa later said he may have been mistaken about when he found out about the perks but insisted he didn't help his daughter or anyone else get vehicles. Still, Mokwa worked out a retirement deal with the board that oversees the department. He received severance pay of about $100,000.


    The police department also gave federal prosecutors the records from a review conducted by a law firm that it hired. The firm, Armstrong Teasdale, acknowledged that an untold number of officers were allowed to "test drive" previously impounded cars for weeks or months. But, the firm concluded, nothing illegal happened.

    Federal authorities have yet to reach the same conclusion.

    About 9 a.m. Tuesday, agents arrived at the North 10th Street office of Metropolitan Towing, pulling an FBI command vehicle inside a tow lot lined with concrete and barbed wire.

    Agents also raided the company's second lot, on North 13th Street, and an affiliated company, Mo Jo's Towing, in Kirkwood.

    Agents searched inside the 10th Street headquarters and stood guard at the lot's gate. About an hour into the search, agents drove an empty Penske rental truck onto the property and backed it into a service bay at the rear of the towing company's headquarters.

    Agents remained there through late afternoon, photographing cars at the lot and taking notes with a metal clipboard.

    The FBI also made the unusual request for people to fill out a survey on the agency's website. The survey asks a series of questions for anyone whose vehicle was towed by Metropolitan Towing or its affiliated companies, including S&H Parking or Parks. Those whose vehicles were towed can also call the FBI.

    When asked if the survey signaled a shift in focus away from police activities, U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said, "S&H had the towing contract for the St. Louis police department."

    Gillies, of the FBI, said he expects the investigation to "continue for a while." He also contradicted earlier news reports that people had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for their cooperation.

    The former chief and representatives of the towing firm have repeatedly declined to comment.

    The raid came as welcome news to Deborah Bailey.

    Her Ford Escort was impounded in 2001, and the lot wouldn't give it back, claiming it was "totaled." Instead, records show, the towing company sold it to Aimie Mokwa for less than a third of its wholesale value.

    Fearing she'd damage her credit rating, Bailey made payments on the vehicle for nearly two years after it was impounded, until she was forced into bankruptcy. She said she never knew her car went to the chief's daughter until told by the Post-Dispatch this summer. The newspaper told her story in an Aug. 3 news report.

    Bailey said Tuesday evening she hopes the investigation will ensure other people don't lose their cars.

    "There were a lot of people getting hurt from this," she said.
    Last edited by ExplorerE321; 08-20-2008, 08:59 PM.

  • #2
    Tow companies paying off police departments is not unique to St. Louis.

    There are newspaper articles about police towing vehicles in Northern San Diego County. One of the cities receives $40 from the tow company for each vehicle towed. Another receives 20% of the storage charges. And yet another receives a total of $400,000 a year in franchise fees from the towing companies. The cities apparently believe this is perfectly OK, because it is done openly. I don't know whether the police have any say in this practice; I do not think they negotiate the contracts.
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

    Comment


    • #3
      True, but maybe this article(which is the latest of many) is showcasing the CHIEF OF POLICE who preached about integrity values, blah blah blah and for six years, helped his daughter get cars for below blue book price, etc and when asked about it, LIED saying he had no knowledge.

      Comment


      • #4
        Yes, the St. Louis example is far more extreme.

        The towing business is notorious for corruption and abuse.
        Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
        Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

        Comment


        • #5
          they are looking at a similar situation by a city council member in Detroit. And it is totally seperate from the mayor thing...
          Though their numbers are many, as the grass upon the field, we will count them at the end of the day.

          Comment


          • #6
            I lived in St Louis for many years, and can honestly say that I've never had a positive experience with the City police.
            Whether it is being pulled over 7 times in one year for "driving while white", or having to go to the police station to report a burglary, i've never been real impressed with the St Louis City Police.
            This is off subject, but a VERY funny story...........
            4 years ago, I had kidney stones. My doctor said that if I passed any, to save it and bring it in to be tested.
            Lo and behold, one morning a monster comes shooting out - 7.5 mm to be exact.
            I reach in the toilet, get the boulder, clean it and my hands up, and put the stone in a baggie, which then goes in my pocket for delivery to the doctor.
            Get in the car and head down the road and guess what? Pulled over for driving while white AGAIN.
            Officer asks me to get out of car and asks if I have anything I shouldn't.
            I say no.
            He then proceeds to pat me down, stopping when he feels the baggie in my pocket.
            He pulls it out, and is very pleased to discover that he's found some crack!
            While he's asking me where I bought it, he sniffs the bag, pulls out the rock, AND LICKS IT!
            At this point I'm laughing my tail off, and once I was able to breathe I told him he just licked a kidney stone.
            I'm not sure what made him madder - the fact that he had just tasted my pee-pee, or that he didn't find any drugs.............

            Oddly enough, I was never pulled over again.

            Comment


            • #7
              The LAPD uses Official Police Garages (OPG)...

              http://www.opgla.com/

              All tows used by the CHP are controlled by the specific CHP area and are on a rotation basis after going through a lengthy inspection and licensing. Kind of difficult to go awry by that method.
              Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

              [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

              Comment


              • #8
                ..........
                Last edited by fordman318; 03-28-2010, 11:59 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  We had a cigar sucking president get a blow job in the oval office (and not from his wife); do you think we're surprised by political officials that spout one idealism and practice the opposite?
                  sigpic

                  I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DAL View Post
                    Tow companies paying off police departments is not unique to St. Louis.

                    There are newspaper articles about police towing vehicles in Northern San Diego County. One of the cities receives $40 from the tow company for each vehicle towed. Another receives 20% of the storage charges. And yet another receives a total of $400,000 a year in franchise fees from the towing companies. The cities apparently believe this is perfectly OK, because it is done openly. I don't know whether the police have any say in this practice; I do not think they negotiate the contracts.

                    You seem to quote information about North San Diego County a lot..... do you have any first hand information or are you just repeating newspaper articles??? I'd like to know if this is in reference to cost recovery fees or in addition to cost recovery fees.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This story is an example of how the FBI needs to be merged with homeland security and help them find terrorist versus sending out surveys to angry people who have had their cars towed. Give me a break. Incidently this goes on just as much in small towns if not even more just on a smaller scale. That is why you have a strict rotation policy. Our wrecker procedures are a big pain in the butt.
                      "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The MARINES don't have that problem." ....Ronald Reagan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
                        We had a cigar sucking president get a blow job in the oval office (and not from his wife); do you think we're surprised by political officials that spout one idealism and practice the opposite?
                        I didn't vote for the Pig. Now you have one running for president who gets blasted on every network tv channel as being the new coming who befriends a known terrorist who took part in bombing american police stations back in the sixties. Nothing suprises me anymore. People are sheeps.
                        "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The MARINES don't have that problem." ....Ronald Reagan

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SgtCHP View Post
                          The LAPD uses Official Police Garages (OPG)...

                          http://www.opgla.com/

                          All tows used by the CHP are controlled by the specific CHP area and are on a rotation basis after going through a lengthy inspection and licensing. Kind of difficult to go awry by that method.
                          Some agencies have rotation tows but the towing company pays the agency a fee for each vehicle.
                          Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                          Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Fuzz View Post
                            You seem to quote information about North San Diego County a lot..... do you have any first hand information or are you just repeating newspaper articles??? I'd like to know if this is in reference to cost recovery fees or in addition to cost recovery fees.
                            In addition to the newspaper article, I spoke with the Chief of a department in San Gabriel County who confirmed that this is a practice at some agencies (not his of course). In addition, a Riverside PD webpage states:

                            Section 5.15.095 Franchise fee.
                            The Official Police Tow Service shall pay monthly to the City during the term of the agreement, a per tow franchise fee. Terms and provisions for payment of the fee shall be in the agreement set forth in Section 5.15.080. (Ord. 6965 § 2, 2007; Ord. 6454 § 2, 1998)
                            Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                            Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JonesZ
                              I was in St. Louis last week, everyone I spoke with talked about who is going to jail. I was amazed how many people had been affected. The tow company would tow vehicles that were legally parked, when the citizen would complain they were threaten with arrest.

                              From what I was told, many expect the Chief, many officers, the owners of the tow company to be arrested and charged under the RICO.

                              WONDERFUL. Another black eye for St. Louis

                              Comment

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