A criminal case and lawsuit involving an unscrupulous towing company has led to the City of Secaucus in New Jersey to change up the existing law on the books making background checks mandatory for any and all such businesses.
The amended ordinance stipulates that any towing company will need to submit an application that provides information for a background check to “establish the applicant’s good character, honesty, and integrity.”
The background check will focus on looking for any evidence of criminal background or if the applicant has had their driver’s license revoked or suspended within the past year.
Each check will cost $50 per individual and applies to both owners and employees alike.
Town Administrator David Drumeler said, “What [the revised law] does is it allows us to take a look at the backgrounds of towing companies as part of the licensing procedure to make sure that we deem them appropriate.”
It all stems from a criminal case back in December of 2008 where the owner of Highpoint Towing, Steven Avella, was arrested in connection with a variety of criminal schemes orchestrated to fleece auto owners.
One such scheme involved pushing automobiles over a cliff so Highpoint Towing could collect recovery fees. Highpoint employees were also caught stripping a car of expensive parts and replacing them with cheaper replacements. Honestly, it almost makes you want to start riding a bike!
In 2009 Highpoint pled guilty as a corporation for conspiracy to commit theft and insurance fraud. But since no one pled guilty as an individual, it left the crew of would-be crooks able to start a new company and reapply for a new commercial towing contract with Secaucus.
When Secaucus refused the application of the now reformed Avella’s Garage (Formerly Highpoint), owners Robert and Steven Avella filed a lawsuit stating they had never pled guilty, it was the corporate entity that had done so. Their reasoning was the new company could not be held at fault!
This is why Secaucus has now amended their towing ordinance to close any loopholes excusing individuals from being held accountable for criminally exploiting consumers.
To this end, Drumeler feels the amended ordinance should prevent any future headaches
“The outcome of their lawsuit was that we agreed to redo our towing ordinance to make it clearer and more specific about what protections we want in place,” said Drumeler. “We think the [background process] that’s in place now is better than what was there before.”