The owners of three towing companies doing business in Santa Monica have been charged by the Santa Monica city attorney’s office for alleged illegal towing practices, Santa Monica deputy city attorney Adam Radinsky said.
Socorro Lopez, owner of Classic Towing; Ameer Antoon, owner of Concord Towing & Impound; and William Amaya, owner of William’s Tow & Impound, were charged by the city attorney’s office Wednesday, September 1st, Radinsky said.
Lopez faces the most charges, with seven criminal counts, including six infractions and one misdemeanor.
The alleged infractions include three counts of towing a car from a business without authorization, two counts of refusing to accept a credit card for payment and one count of excessive towing charges, the deputy city attorney said.
Lopez also faces a misdemeanor charge of allegedly towing a car without the owner’s permission, he said.
Antoon was charged with the two infractions of allegedly towing from a business without authorization and allegedly charging for two days of storage when the vehicle was held for less than 24 hours, the deputy city district attorney said.
Amaya faces an infraction charge for allegedly refusing to accept a credit card for payment, and the misdemeanor of allegedly operating without a business license, according to the deputy city attorney.
All three owners were scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, October 12th, at the LAX Courthouse near Los Angeles International Airport.
A misdemeanor carries a maximum fine of $3,300 and the maximum fine for an infraction is $330, the deputy city attorney said.
Car owners may also sue the towing company in small-claims court for violations of the law, and if they win their cases, the car owners could receive four times the amount they paid the towing company, Radinsky said.
The city attorney’s office filed the charges based on police investigation into the events, which occurred during the past four to seven months, he said.
The charges are based on cases from three separate alleged victims of Classic Towing and one alleged victim each of Concord Towing and William’s Tow, Radinsky said.
Antoon, whose company has been in operation since 1995, denied receiving notification of the charges, but said Concord Towing has never had any problems with activities now being alleged.
Lopez and Amaya could not be reached for comment.
Radinsky said the city attorney’s office notified each of the owners of the charges by letter Wednesday, September 1st.
“We hope these cases send a wake-up call to all towing companies doing business in Santa Monica, that the laws will be enforced here,” Radinsky said.