St. Louis Police at War with Towing Firm

     ST. LOUIS (CN) – The St. Louis Police Department has sued the towing company that brought a scandal that forced its police chief to resign. The Board of Police Commissioners claims in City Court that St. Louis Metropolitan Towing falsified towing statements, bilking the department of at least $453,000.

     The Police Board and Metro Towing entered into a service agreement in 2005 under which Metro would provide towing services upon the request of police; in turn the department would use Metro for all of its towing needs.
     The agreement allowed Metro to charge vehicle owners for towing and storing their vehicles. The charges included a basic tow fee of $100, a daily storage fee of $20 and an administrative fee of $10; owners had to pay all fees before getting their vehicle back, the suit states.
     The agreement stated that Metro would remit a portion of the basic tow and daily storage fees to the city. Half the basic towing and half of the daily storage fee for up to 30 days would be sent back to the Police Department, the suit states. If a vehicle owner did not pay the towing fees after 30 days, Metro could establish ownership of the vehicle, after meeting certain legal requirements, and sell it.
     But the Police Board claims Metro falsified payment sheets and towing records, allowing Metro to keep most of the fees. The Police Board says an audit going back to August 2006 showed gross discrepancies and that a conservative estimate of the amount Metro gained from the scheme is $453,000.
     The Police Board is represented by Gordon Ankney.
     Several lawsuits have been filed against the Police Board and Metro since the St. Louis Post-Dispatch broke the story about their relationship in August 2008.
     The newspaper reported that members of the Police Department, their friends, relatives and acquaintances got to use certain vehicles in possession of Metro. St. Louis Police Chief Joe Mokwa resigned shortly after it was reported that his daughter, Aimie, had used the cars; a federal investigation into the Police Department’s actions is continuing.

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