Friday, November 13, 2009
Commercial bribery must be stopped, large corporations, on the take by their towing contractor is widespread..
We should expect no less in towing companies and their drivers, as we do elected officials.
There are excellent towing companies in Texas, but there are unscrupulous towing companies too.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
The same issue, I saw no sign when I pulled in, but I did find the sign once I started searching the number to call to retrieve their vehicle. Still, parking facilities are using towing signs that DO NOT comply with the Texas Towing Law, Occupation Code 2308.301. The sooner these parking facilities understand they are on the hook for monetary damages, no less than a $1000, if the sign posted does not bear the required language.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I expect certain wrecker driver to continue their crusade to steal vehicles from parking lots not in compliance, wrecker drivers arriving at collision scene not wearing the TDLR mandated clothing, and not completely cleaning up the accident scene.
Just this past week, I saw a collision at East Riverside Dr at Tinnin Ford RD where two rotation were called, I parked and watched to see who would arrive, sure enough Rocha's arrived first. The Rocha driver was not even wearing the correct shirt, no was his City of Austin license clipped to his shirt. OF course, I documented the entire event with video. The 2nd truck to arrive was Harpers, that their driver was wearing the TDLR approved short, in addition to displaying both the COA badge and the TDLR badge.
Lots of changes have came to the towing, vehicle storage and booting industries, that TDLR will regulate. There also is an attempt by Joane Messina and Amy Milstead-Ellzey to do away with giving the consumer a copy of the tow truck receipt, I don't see this changing, because the tow truck receipt (governmental record) is a requirement for request the hearing to determine if probable cause existed to have the vehicle towed in the first place. In addition, tow truck drivers have been known to forged someone's name on the authorization line on the tow truck receipt, another reason, the consumer is entitled to both, the tow truck receipt and the vehicle storage facility receipt. TDLR should place an empasis on wrecker driver and vehicle storage facility employees, to complete the paperwork.
I was told during a telephone call, that three wrecker drivers were arrested in the San Antonio area, after an alert patrolman videotaped vehicles being towed away from a closed service station, with none of the required signage posted. After further review, not one of the three who were arrested didn't have a TDLR licenses, nor could they produce any documentation giving them the right remove 34 vehicles from that location.
What this tells me is that local law enforcement agencies are doing something, like arresting wrecker drivers for committing criminal action, such as illegal towing.
Anyway, I have submitted an application for the "public member" opening on the TDRL Texas Towing, Storage and Booting Advisory Board.
Although I no longer work in the towing industry, I have a vast knowledge of experience in these types of trades.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
This criminal penalty enhancement (Class B Misdemeanor) is much welcomed by law enforcement agencies across the state, in hopes that crooked wrecker drivers will think twice before towing a vehicle without probable cause, although, I believe many who currently tow illegally, will continue until sentenced.
Another much anticipated change in the towing law, increasing the amount of financial liability the Court will be awarding, for the statutory violations, no less than a $1000.00, the parking facility will be liable to vehicle owners. Just remember, if you pay $200 to retrieve your vehicle and file a Justice Court suit for the statutory violation against the parking facility, you will receive no less than $1000.00 per violation, in addition to three times the $200.00 plus your attorney fees.
On another note of importance, the tow hearing to determine if probable cause existed to have your vehicle towed, will be held in the jurisdiction of the parking facility, not the vehicle storage facility.
In addition, the vehicle storage facility is required to provide the name of the person, who authorized the towing of your vehicle, with their address, city, state, zip and phone number. Should a vehicle storage facility employee refuse to provide this information, vehicle owners are encouraged to call the Police.
I am really excited about these changes in the towing law, because some towing companies have and are continuing to financially abuse consumers, being vehicle owners or operators. With these new tools, now justice can be served, only if you have a Judge who does not base his/her decision on campaign donations, which has happened many times in the past.
Consumers can be assured that online complaints filed with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation will render sanctions if warranted, because wrecker drivers are trained and certified, therefore knowing their actions are scrutinized.
Always call your local police department if towed from private parking lots if you think you were illegally towed after reviewing Texas Towing Compliance's website.
College students returning to Austin need to remember, when catching the wrecker driver hooking up your vehicle in a parking lot, they must release it for free, if not fully prepared on for transport, to learn more, watch this video.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
In addition to these new changes in the Texas Towing Law, law enforcement agencies will be able to file a Class B Misdemeanor against wrecker drivers who repeatedly tow vehicles without probable cause. Instead of a simple ticket as now, we expect wrecker drivers and parking facility owners/managers to be arrested and transported to Jail.
After September 1st, 2009, if you pay $200 to retrieve your vehicle that has been towed without your consent from a private parking lot, the parking facility and/or towing company will be liable for $1000.00 instead of the current $300.00, plus triple damages, for violating the Texas Towing Law.
I expect those towing companies and parking facilities to obey the law with these increased penalties, civil and criminal. It may take a couple of years before they learn it is wise to follow the law instead of taking that chance that a vehicle owner or operator or some law enforcement agency is not up on the changes in State Law.
Come September 1, 2010, there will the a maximum tow fee for nonconsent towing throughout the State of Texas.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
The towing scams involving tractor trailers, forcing their operators to pay in access of a $1000.00, when their trucks were outright stolen, based on the fact the towing company "gave" kickbacks to the property owner/manager in exchange for the authorization to tow vehicles from their property.
The recent towing scam in Austin, involving Central Towing, to which it's owner was arrested, is a prime example of how law enforcement agencies across the State should address the criminal illegal towing in their community.
Come May 1, 2010, the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation will established maximum fees towing companies can charge vehicle owners or operators. This should stop the abusive charges that many vehicle owners cannot afford.
Once again, the Texas Towing Law, which originated in 1992 has been amended once again that will finally hold towing companies and parking facility owners criminally responsible for the action. In addition, a parking facility will be liable to a vehicle owner for $1000.00 plus triple damages for violating the Towing Law, Occupation Code 2308.251, in addition to attorney fees. This alone should make property managers think twice before asking for or accepting something free from a towing company.
This is a win win for parking facility owners and towing companies, as competition will become fair, because sacrificing their integrity for the sake of profit, will cost violators their freedom and huge sums of money.
Vehicle owners will have even more rights now, as the vehicle storage facility will be required to provide the name of the "person" who authorized the tow.
For further information on how HB2571 will drastically change the landscape of the Texas Towing Law, click here for that information.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Wrecker drivers towing vehicles from private parking lot within the city limits of Austin best heed the warning, because APD knows the rules and is enforcing them.
So, the next time, you demand money your not entitled to, just remember that person could be an undercover police officer.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
There is no reason not to believe their are more victims of illegal towing by the company.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The towing scam that happened over a three day period at a Whataburger located in Austin, Texas during the South by Southwest Music Festival that involved Central Towing Inc, TDLR License No. 05672220C, has resulted in a felony arrest warrant being issued today for its company President, Donald Creamer. (D1DC-09301068)
The President of the Austin Towing Association, Reid Courtney, told me recently in a telephone call, that Central was not a member of their organization, yet the Creamers, Donald and Catherine attend association meetings. Regardless, Central Towing is listed within the Austin Towing Association website.
This criminal conduct by Central Towing's owners, employees, spotters and drivers are no different than their counterparts, who operate a very unscrupulous business. Their day is coming, when they also will have an arrest warrant with their name on it.
Towing companies who prey on consumers and operate outside the law will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in Austin, Texas.
It's always wise to call 311 or 512-974-5000 and file an offense report for an illegal tow, if towed from a parking facility within the city limits of Austin, because of ongoing criminal activity by select towing companies.
The Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation is aware of this warrant being issued and the actions of this company should result in sanctions and fines. I know the Texas Attorney General is further pursuing action against Central's owners for a previous towing company that was shutdown.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
This week has been somewhat productive; the Texas House of Representatives passed HB 2571 in a record vote 147 to 0. In case some of you are not aware of what HB 2571 is, its legislation aimed at addressing predatory towing practices by wrecker drivers, parking facility owners or managers and towing companies who prey on motorists daily.
These predatory towing issues is not new, rather we have known about the problem for several years, we just haven't had legislators who thought the issues were not of importance.
One of the key factors in both HB 2571 and SB 1431, is the criminal penalty has been increased from the current Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor. This factor in itself is going have a major impact on these criminal enterprises purporting themselves as towing companies, as any law enforcement person can arrest violators immediately, instead of issuing a ticket, as done now.
Also, another request of mine, which both the Senate and House agreed, is to increase damages for statutory violation against the parking facility, from $300 to $1000 plus three times what was paid to retrieve vehicle from storage lot.
Therefore, I am quite pleased with both versions House and Senate, except to provision that would allow a registered sex offender to obtain a license.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Something had to be done, to stop the vicious assault on Texan by towing companies, in some places in Texas, like Montgomery, Williamson, Tarrant, Jefferson, Galveston, Harris and many more refused to acknowledge criminal illegal towing was happening in their jurisdiction.
While non-consent towing is a necessary solution for keeping fire lanes cleared and parking spaces open in downtown areas, there’s a darker, criminal element to the towing industry. And, county commissioners and peace officers can play important roles in combating those who are abusing the system and victimizing residents. Commissioners courts can regulate non-consent tow and storage fees in their jurisdictions, and peace officers can investigate claims from offense reports.
“All law enforcement agencies need to do that. Take a report for $20,000 after their cars were hijacked from apartment complex or business parking lots, even though owners of those lots never asked for the car to be towed. I've heard of tow truck companies setting traps for drivers, parking vehicles in private lots so that it appears as though cars there won’t be towed, then watching the lot until it begins filling up and towing all the takers.
I list his cell phone number on our Web site just so I can give information to victims. I estimated that I talked to 15,000 people last year, all complaining about illegal tows or excessive fees (my site generates more than 10,000 page views a month). Johnson gives callers standard advice: Take photographs of the parking lot and signage, and file an offense report with the local 311 service or law enforcement agency. Often,I hears reports from residents who say they were told they can’t file an offense report because it’s private property or a civil complaint. I always tells victims that an illegal tow is a criminal offense and only the courts can decide whether a crime has been committed.
“When you call 3-1-1, you tell them you want to file an offense report for an illegal tow, you tell them the space you parked in was an illegal tow. You don’t know whether it’s illegal until a detective investigates it.”BILL ANALYSIS SB 1431, I encourage everyone to read it and tell you friends to call your legislators and urge them to vote "FOR" in law. It will make a difference, law enforcement will no longer be able to standby and allow a wrecker driver to commit a Class B Misdemeanor offense.
The day is coming when people like Dick and Amy Milstead Ellzey, Joann and Dan Messina, John Deloach, Thomas Mora, Jess Horton and drivers with their mindset, will be handcuffed and taken to jail for violating State Law.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Now, another TDLR (Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations) Advisory Board Member, Joann Messina has been found to be violating the very rules and regulations they advise the very agency that regulates them. In the latest incident, which appears to be standard practice for her unscrupulous business, is not providing the name of the person, their address, city, state, zip code and phone number of the person who authorized the removal of a nonconsent tow. Messina like Milstead-Ellzey and other unscrupulous towing company operators who prey on Texans, should be ashamed of themselves.
By looking at the receipt provided to the consumer, being the victim in this case, Messina's company failed to provide the full printed name of the tow truck operator, his/her TDLR license number and the name of the "person" who authorized the tow, both violations of State Law.
Messina and other towing companies do anything to shield who authorized the removal by providing the name of the parking facility, instead of the required full name of the person. Without this information, completing the written request for a tow hearing is often filed incomplete. The majority of towing companies in Texas operate a very legitimate business, but towing companies like Southwest Auto Tow, Milstead, Central, Assured, A&A, Ideal and many others operate knowing they violate State law daily.
Messina should resign from this advisory board with her cohort Amy Milstead, neither follow State Law and victimize the public on a daily basis. Hopefully HB2571 and SB1431 is signed into the law by the Governor, so people like these two can be arrested for their continued criminal conduct!
Thursday, April 9, 2009
This continuing criminal conduct by Central Towing Inc preying on Texas consumers for financial gain is exposing their dishonesty.
The cause number to this latest case in Municipal Court is 6929709.
It was through the outreach that brought this case to Court, both through the investigative process of the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit, the victim and Texas Towing Compliance.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I would say that for the most part, that Donald and Catherine Creamer, owners of Central Towing Inc of Austin, committed larceny on a grand style. I have known these two individuals since the late 80's and for them either them to say they were unaware the Whataburger parking lot located at 601 Barton Springs Road was not in compliance with State Law, is to far fetched. The reason I believe this, is why did they switch the red and white towing signs that were not in compliance with signs that were in compliance, only after I exposed their criminal activity on this blog.
But, this company has a history of deceiving consumers, not to mention taxing entities.
This incident could be the final straw for Central Towing Inc because they are no different than Lone Star Auto Services of Dallas that TDLR fined $411,000.
The Texas Attorney General wants any victim of illegal towing, such as this incident, to file a complaint with their agency, so they can shutdown companies like Central Towing Inc. The Creamers already have a history with the Attorney General surrounding their shady business practices in the past.
We cannot allow any member company of the Austin Towing Association to commit numerous felony offenses against our citizens and do nothing, as happened in the past.
Whataburger Restaurants LP has exposed their corporation to Deceptive Trade Practice Litigation that could be costly due to the large number of victims, over the past two years. This in my opinion would an excellent class action for an attorney looking to make some money.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Last week was successful, as seven victims of criminal illegal towing, who's "probable cause or statutory violations' cases were heard before a Judge, all were victorious in their crusade to fight for their rights. In one case, which I call a "stunning defeat", Mark Hull, General Counsel for Assured Towing Inc, Austin Towing Association and the Southwest Tow Operators learned firsthand, that no towing company is above the rules and regulations of the Texas Towing Act, after being found GUILTY by Travis County Judge Charles Webb.
Over the past four days in Austin, Texas, the famed South by Southwest (SXSW) film and music festival took place, which more than 100,000 people attended. Of course, with a four day event, the towing of vehicles parked in parking lot in compliance with State Law happened. But, a returning towing scam, same towing scam that has occurred during three previous SXSW events, featured Central Towing Inc and Whataburger, knowingly violating the Occupation Code 2308.301(b)(5), that caused undue financial grief for more than 100 unsuspecting consumers.
You would think that Whataburger would have high ethical standards to obey State Law, but with this continued towing scam to be allowed to happen 3 years in row, is just bad business ethics. Then the question comes to how Whataburger chose a corrupt towing company like Central Towing Inc, this company has changed its business name at least three times.
On Saturday night, I observed Donald Creamer, President, Central Towing Inc stash two impounds towed from the Whataburger at Barton Springs and South First to a "parking lot" (not a licensed vehicle storage facility) at the intersection of Elizabeth and South First Street. Shortly after stashing the first vehicle, (Black VW Beetle), a tow truck bearing the name Batts Wrecker Service arrives, by this time Creamer is pulling into the parking lot with another stashed impound (White Ford Escape SUV). Batts then begins to load up the Escape, while Creamer heads back to Whataburger to steal another vehicle, (White Mini Cooper), then returns to the stash location. Once Creamer notices that I have watching his criminal activity, he speeds away with the Mini Cooper.
You would think an Austin Towing Association member like Central Towing Inc would obey State Law, but when its association general counsel is nailed with a guilty verdict for criminal illegal towing, it can't be expect that Central would obey the law.
What's sad about the whole issue is that people came to Austin to enjoy the free music, only to become crime victims at the hand of Donald Creamer with Central Towing Inc and Whataburger Restaurants LP.
We can only hope that the Austin Police Department, Office of Attorney General Greg Abbott Consumer Protection Division and the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations will shut this company down for good. Donald and Cathy Creamer are nothing more than petty thieves, who like other unscrupulous towing operators give the Towing Industry a bad reputation.
Central Towing Inc, Assured Towing Inc, Milstead Towing and Lone Star Auto Services all have one thing in common; they all inflict untimely financial harm against struggling consumers and businesses in violation of State Laws, for their own financial greed.
Anyone towed from a private parking lot is encouraged to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations.
By filing a complaint against the towing company and vehicle storage facility with the above link, you can rest assured an investigation will be conducted that may result in a $411,000 fine against the towing company.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Today, Travis County Judge Charles Webb ruled that Assured Towing Inc is liable to another victim of criminal illegal towing and ordered them to pay $300.00.
Assured Towing Inc was represented by Jorge Herrera, so their financial loss is greater than the $300, in legal fees. Mark Hall, Vice President and General Counsel for Assured Towing Inc testified also on behalf of this company.
Just last week, another victim of criminal illegal towing in the Houston area won their case against a parking facility owner for the statutory violations of the Occupation Code 2308. I am seeing more victims of criminal illegal towing win their cases outright, basically because they appeared in Court "prepared". Being prepared, by understanding the Texas Towing Law, taking the correct photographs and having someone to discuss the reason for the tow with, is of vital importance, to win in Court.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation fined Lone Star Auto Services of Dallas $411,000 for their criminal conduct involving the many victims that were scammed during the UT-OU Football Game. This should send a wakeup call to other towing companies that operate in the manner of Lone Star that your days of ripping off the consumers are numbered.
I was told this morning after speaking with the San Antonio Police Department, their City Attorney's Office has told the Police Department not to bother Assured Towing Inc San Antonio, something of which they are not amused with.
This matter goes back to the dark cloud over the towing zone Assured was given, at the bequest of the Mayor of San Antonio. There is more to this issue than we know about and the citizens of San Antonio encourage United States Attorney John Sutton's office to investigate. Assured Towing Inc is causing major problems according to San Antonio Police Department, mainly for refusing to follow the rules.
In the long run, I believe these towing companies and wrecker drivers, which routinely violate State Law, will find another occupation or be sentenced to long BOP sentences.
Monday, March 9, 2009
I am not surprised to see that certain wrecker drivers, who were tested and issued an wrecker operator license by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations, are knowingly towing vehicles from private parking facilities or public roadways, in violation of State Law. The issue of illegal towing is rampant across our state, at a time with people losing their jobs, having to make a difficult choice, rather to pay an untimely fee, or put food on the table for their family.
To add salt to the wound of the many victims of illegal towing, is that a growing number of law enforcement agencies, have taken the stance, they are not willing to allow a crime victim to file an offense report against a towing company, wrecker driver, vehicle storage facility employee or parking facility, when a clear violation of State Law has occurred. In the most recent incident, a towing company (wrecker drivers) committed more than a hundred felony offenses while the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction looks the other way, i.e. business as usual. It's these events that give the towing industry a black eye.
In an illegal towing incident in Wills Point, Texas, a towing company, Fuller's Towing and Recovery Service, towed a vehicle from the parking lot of Lone Star Grill that the Grill manager called wanted removed. The wrecker driver, who arrived at this parking lot, should have recognized there were none of the required red and white towing signs (Occupation Code 2308.301) that would have allowed the towing of a vehicle parked in a marked parking space without the owner or operator's consent. But, as in the majority of nonconsent tows, the wrecker driver, sacrificed their integrity for the sake of financial gain, instead of telling the person who called, their parking lot was not in compliance with State Law.
The motoring public is under attack by these types of wrecker drivers, licensed or unlicensed, who refuse to obey the very State Law they were trained and tested for to be allowed to operate (drive) a tow truck in the State of Texas.
It's not like these towing company owners don't know what is happening, a large number of towing companies who tow from private parking lots (PPI, Impounds, Tow Aways) without the vehicle owner or operator's consent, have a criminal background, that are skilled in how to train their drivers, sales people and spotters how to deceive the public. Because of this cut throat business climate, towing companies who comply with State Law are losing clients because of financial benefits their competitors are giving to property managers and parking facility owners, while law enforcement ignores the facts.
We can only hope the Texas Legislature gives some relief to the many victims of illegal towing, in addition to increased funding to TDLR to hire additional investigators.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Everyday, I hear from someone who's vehicle was taken from a parking facility, which was not in compliance with the Texas Towing Law, and forced to pay huge sums of money to get their vehicle back. To make matters worse, the chances of getting their money back, even a court ordered judgment, the towing companies and vehicle storage facilities refuse to pay the money back.
With people losing their jobs, being victimized by towing companies, law enforcement agencies refusing to arrest those committing criminal offenses that resulted in the illegal tow in the first place, are contributing to the consumer's confidence in Justice.
Victims of towing companies and parking facilities cannot give up, because if you do, the criminal enterprises win.
The public if victimized by towing company or vehicle storage facility should file a complaint against them.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Based on comments in a conversation with the TDLR Investigator who spoke with DICK Milstead, the investigator will submit is findings to Austin that will indicate a Milstead practice, which many in the towing industry and law enforcement circles find the be illegal.
DICK's daughter should save whatever reputation she has, because both law enforcement members on the same Advisory Board believe Amy Milstead Ellzey is a conflict of interest.
Considering Judge Edie Connelly caught DICK Milstead lying during the probable cause hearing recently, it's wonder this man keep his facts straight with the TDLR investigator.
The issue with Action Towing in Killeen ripping off wounded soldiers returning from Iraq at their apartment complex has gotten the full attention of the Texas Attorney General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas State Comptroller, TDLR and the Bell County District Attorney. Unfortunately, this towing company in Killeen is no different than DICK's company, two companies bent on inflicting financial pain behind criminal illegal towing.
These incidents are just a tip of the iceberg, as we have many unscrupulous towing companies and wrecker drivers, who all prey on the motoring public.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The past week has been filled with criminal activity among towing companies, wrecker drivers, vehicle storage facility employees and parking facility owners or agents, that several state and federal agencies have opened investigations.
Milstead Automotive Ltd was notified in writing by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations that both of his companies are under investigation, for violating the rules and regulations, that his daughter, Amy Millstead Ellzey, advises the very agency that is investigating them. (Investigation No. VSF2009-006-0996, TOW2009-006-0996)
In Killeen, Action Towing & Recovery, is under investigation, for towing vehicles from an apartment complex without probable cause, registered to "wounded Fort Hood soldiers returning from Iraq, not to mentioned several government owned vehicles. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Texas Attorney General, Texas State Comptroller, Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations and Texas Rangers are all involved in a joint investigation in the matter.
In Austin, several member companies of the Austin Towing Association, have been cited by the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Detectives for violating State Law and the City Ordinance that regulate the fees, that were charged when not allowed.
Central Towing of Austin is once again back to their old games of screwing the public, the Texas Attorney General is still after the owners, Don and Cathy Creamer for deceptive business practices among other issues, from the early 80's when they were operating under "A Better Wrecker Service".
The San Antonio Police Department is having major problems trying to get Assured Towing and other towing companies to comply with the rules they agreed to follow after being awarded a tow zone for traffic accidents.
This criminal activity surrounding private property impounds (PPI) will never cease to exist as long as law enforcement refuses to step up to the plate and enforce the State Law.
The public must file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations if your vehicle is taken without your permission and forced to pay a ransom to retrieve it.
The bright side of these continuing criminal illegal towing incidents, more victims after finding Texas Towing Compliance, won their probable cause hearing before a Judge.
Knowing your rights is key to taking down criminal organizations that prey on your pocketbook.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Dallas-Fort Worth region has been a haven for towing companies, vehicle storage facilities and employees of both, engaging in organized criminal activity on a daily basis, while law enforcement refuses to acknowledge criminal offenses are occurring.
Things are changing, as Investigator Trip told me he ordered a Vehicle Storage Facility in Dallas to release at no charge, three tractor trailers, that were driven to the storage facility instead of towing, after viewing the three tractors equipped with a Qualcomm satellite system.
For once in a very longtime, the consumers have a state agency geared at tackling the chronic problems within the Towing and Vehicle Storage Facility Industry.
No more does it matter if a Judge is corrupted by towing company money, who continue to rule in favor of these criminal enterprises, instead of upholding the Texas Towing Law, because TDLR is conducting it's own investigation and issuing fines for violating the Law.
We have a ways to go, as the the Legislature must step up to the plate and pass legislation regarding criminal histories that automatically disqualify applicants for any Occupation License.
As long as Administrative Judges continue their crusade of forcing TDLR to issue Occupation Licenses to career criminals bent on bringing harm to our citizens, the public faces great risk for bodily harm and financial loss.
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation Commissioners must remain strong and not allow personal friendships to blind their decisions, when it becomes necessary to remove Advisory Board appointees, who are found to be violating State Law, as in the case with Amy Milstead Ellzey and Joann Messina.
More and more law enforcement agencies are contacting the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit to gain the knowledge on how they can address criminal illegal towing.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
This ruling proves that no matter one's wealth and reputation in their community, can knowingly violate State Law and get away with it.
I was unable to attend the Texas Towing and Storage Advisory Board meeting this morning, because my mother's funeral was more important.
Amy Milstead Ellzey should be ashamed of herself for allowing her family's towing company to engage in criminal conduct as with this case!
With this ruling, Montgomery County Justice Court, Precinct Three, Cause Number 3608A, Mr. Eakins should pursue filing criminal charges against the Milstead wrecker operator that towed his truck and the Milstead Vehicle Storage employee who charged unauthorized fees.
This criminal act by Milstead, is how unscrupulous towing companies statewide thrive.
The attorney representing the Milstead clan, Jonathan Bruce, of Houston is fine man, as I know him personally, as he has represented towing companies I had managed in the past in deregulation issues. I kinda feel bad for Mr Bruce with the Dick Milstead outright lying in Court putting him on the spot.
Next step for Mr Eakins is to file a Justice Court Case in Harris County against Milstead and Flying J for the statutory violations and recover triple damages. Considering Milstead charged him $1800 twice in this incident, no different than the other 21 tractor trailer owner or operator from the the Flying J Travel Center, Mr Eakins triple damages for knowingly violated State Law by Milstead, is $5400, plus his attorney fees.
These specific actions of Milstead have exposed their corporation to a "Deceptive Trade Practices" litigation by every victim towed from a private parking facility.
On to greener pastures, as I will do everything in my power to have Amy Milstead-Ellzey removed from the TDLR Advisory Board, Texas deserves better.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
A business or individual that holds a license through this agency is required to obey State Law. There can be no preferential treatment for any license holder, board member or commissioner that violates State Law, period.
There are no valid excuses for violating the vehicle storage facility regulations or rules since this law has been in effect for over 10 years.
The conduct of Milstead Automotive Ltd regarding the charging of two towing fees when only one tow truck was used to tow the truck and trailer is illegal. Those companies that charge consumers unauthorized towing charges when the truck and trailer is burglarized, then driven to the storage facility and charged two towing fees, should have their license revoked, in addition to be arrested.
The current makeup the Advisory Board does not represent the many towing companies who obey the law, and find it insulting their interest is in the hands of two board members that blalantly violate the State Law on a regular basis.
It would be in the best interest of the Towing Industry if Amy Millstead-Ellzey and Joann Messina would resign from their position on the Advisory Board, because quite frankly integrity is something neither seem to have, based for current investigations by TDLR and law enforcement.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
A "spotter account" is a towing contract between the towing company and the parking facility, to which the contract states the towing company will hold the parking facility harmless from any action because a vehicle was towed.
This is the purest form of violating the Texas Towing Law, Occupation Code 2308.402 and with the criminal aspect, "engaging in organized criminal activity" since more the three people, the spotter, the wrecker driver, the parking facility owner/agent, and the towing company representative who signed the contract.
This ongoing criminal conspiracy involving towing companies and parking facilities against the public is soon to come to an abrupt halt, after the Federal Grand Jury returns the sealed indictments.
On February 10th, at 10;00am in the 7th Floor Public Meeting Room of the E.O. Thompson State Office Building, located at 920 Colorado in Austin, the Towing and Storage Advisory Board will have it's meeting, at which I plan to attend, with several members of law enforcement curious how certain board members will respond to questions concerning conflict of interest.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Towing Companies, Wrecker Drivers and Vehicle Storage Facility Employees Rob Vehicle Owners of Cash and Stolen Personal Property
The Texas Legislature needs to wake up, because TDLR is issuing without hesitation Occupation Licenses to career criminal, murderers, serial rapist on parole, and registered sex offenders. This needs to stop because it's placing the public in grave danger.
The last thing we need is to watch on a TV news story about a 17 female being raped and left for dead on the side of road, by wrecker driver sent to pick them up.
The Milstead Automotive Ltd issue is going strong, a complaint through TCEQ was filed with the EPA for ground water pollution.
I sent a letter today to Mr Susan Combs, State Comptroller regarding the outstanding tax money Milstead Automotive has yet to pay in full after being audited.
Heard this morning, that three senators and 4 house members are going to file several bills regarding the horrifying towing issues across the state. One, I know is being filed is increase the penalty for violating Occupation Code 2308.405 to Class B Misdemeanor punishable by: (1) a fine not to exceed $2,000; (2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days or not less than 90 days; or (3) both such fine and confinement, (4) pay restitution in the total amount paid for retrieving vehicle from the storage facility by the victim.
Talked to two San Antonio area attorneys who were interested in representing the Milstead victims in class action lawsuit against Milstead Automotive Ltd and Flying J for Deceptive Trade Practices.
Another issue that concerns me, is the wrecker drivers who are being licensed by TDLR are not being trained in the very laws they must know. If the towing companies are going to train their drivers about the Towing Law, this would be a critical mistake.
What I do know, is that TLDR's Enforcement Agents are ticketing tow truck, vehicle storage facilities and employees for violating the rules.
Friday, January 23, 2009
I had the opportunity to talk with Flying J Corporate office in Utah, regarding the major fraud at one of their locations, they are aware of the incident, and have suspended all towing unless blocking a driveway entering from the street. I told them it would be in their best interest to tell Milstead Towing to come remove their non-compliant red and white towing signs. I offered, and they accepted, to assist them bringing all their Texas locations in compliance with State Law and purchasing the required signage.
Also, I had the opportunity to talk with two members of the Texas Towing and Storage Advisory Board for the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations, that Amy Milstead is Vice Presiding Officer. Both members, one that is the Asst Chief Police, agreed that Amy Milstead should be removed from the board, if TDLR investigators determine her company, Milstead Automotive Ltd, blatantly violated the Occupation Code 2308.251.
Since this past Tuesday, 7 of the 11 illegal tow victims, who empowered themselves after visiting Texas Towing Compliance, where the incident happened in Austin, have given written statements to the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit.
Unfortunately, 5 wrecker drivers, so far, with an APD Wrecker Driver License, were issued a citation with multiple offenses. Each violation of the City of Austin Wrecker Ordinance or the Texas Towing Law cost $1064.00 plus court cost.
On the towing scam issues, Albert's Towing and Pronto Wrecker was suspended from the Austin Police Department Incident Management Program and Collision Rotation List for 6 months, all because of a greedy owner's business practices. This company, like Milstead and Best charged a vehicle operator two towing fees when only one tow truck is used to tow it to the storage facility. Not only did towing company owner (Thomas Mora) do it once, but several times, not to mention towing tractor trailers with no authorization from a Walmart Store Manager in South Austin.
These towing company owners and executives are responsible for their driver's and employee's criminal conduct. Inadequate trained wrecker drivers are more likely to violate the towing law, but for a seasoned driver or manager, to knowingly tow a vehicle in violation of the Towing Law, is totally unacceptable and should be prosecuted.
It's really sad that just because the law enforcement agency in a towing company's town doesn't file criminal charges for violating the Towing Law, they believe in their warped minds they can steal someone's vehicle, hold it in storage until their ransom is paid.
Law Enforcement agencies are slowly learning about these career criminal wrecker drivers working for a wrecker service that is a criminal enterprise in their community.
You can never give up trying to file an offense report for an illegal tow, if a police officer, or any rank below Police Chief or Sheriff tells you it's a civil matter, go higher up the food chain and demand they allow you to file criminal charges, Occupation Code 2308.405.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I just can't understand why towing companies, of all people, would allow their name and phone number to be on a statutory required towing sign, that fails to meet the minimum requirements of the Texas Towing Law, Occupation Code 2308.301.
I personally have never met Amy Milstead-Ellzey, Vice President of Milstead Automotive Ltd, and the comments I have written in reference this individual, is because of her position on the Texas Towing and Storage Advisory Board, who advises the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations, about rules and regulations pertaining to their towing business.
I believe, like the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit detectives, that a person on any type of state advisory board or commission should be held to the highest of standards, which includes obeying the Law.
The actions of Milstead Towing, based on documentation, photographs, video, State Law and from the many victims, are outright criminal in nature, especially towing vehicles without the owner or operator's consent, from a parking facility not in compliance with State Law.
When I say criminal, it based on Occupation Code 2308.405 and when multiple offenses are occurring from the same parking facility, as in this case, the Flying J, grounds for Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity exist.
Again, had this incident happened in Austin, Texas, those drivers would have been arrested and charged with Felony Theft, according to the APD Wrecker Enforcement Detectives.
The continued resetting of the court date by Milstead is not going to change the facts that this parking facility located at 15919 North Freeway, Houston TX, was not in compliance with the Texas Towing Law, nor did Milstead have probable cause to remove those 23 tractor trailers.
I personally have filed complaints with the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations against Milstead Automotive (Milstead Towing) for numerous violations of the Vehicle Storage Facility Rules.
In my opinion, after this ruling, which the evidence clearly proves that Best Transport committed several felony criminal offenses regarding this towing incident and should be arrested.
James Thompson who was represented Best Transport perjured himself when testified that his towing company towed from the tractor trailer in question, when in fact, it was Jackson Motors who towed it, since Best lacked the equipment to complete the task.
This case is no different than the incident at the Flying J in Houston that involved 23 tractor trailers. Failure to obey the Texas Towing Law has consequences, both civil and criminal.
Well, there is difference in this case than the Flying J incident, we know who towed the tractor trailers from the Flying J, just the fact that the Vice President of Milstead Automotive, which includes Milstead Towing, is on the Texas Towing and Storage Advisory Board, not to mention the Texas Towing and Storage Association, to allow her employees to flagrantly violate the very State Law which both organizations should know by now.
Bexar County JP 3 Case No. 30-H-09-00004-01
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Most of the towing company owners I know are honest individuals, male or female, who built their respective businesses with integrity, although, none of them ever thought it was necessary to deceive a customer, regardless the situation, when it involved the towing fee(s).
The incident in Bexar and Harris Counties where two different towing companies, both charging an unauthorized towing fee, while one of these companies, "tampered with a governmental record" by marking up the original receipt for towing to coincide with their nonconsent tow fee schedule submitted to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations.
As shown above in the two pictures, you can see that the tractor (truck) and the trailer were altogether being towed with one heavy duty wrecker. This is how tractor trailers drive on the highways, as one unit, but, some towing company owners feel the rush to charge a towing fee for the trailer, when the trailer was never hooked up or attached to a wrecker, during the time that tractor trailer (one unit) was transported to the storage facility.
As in both incidents, neither parking facility, complied with the Occupations Code 2308.252.
Had a sign as shown below been posted at the Flying J by Milstead Towing, the towing of all 23 of those tractor trailers would still be illegal because the towing sign is illegal itself for failing to bears the words "Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed at Owner's or Operator's Expense", as required in Occupation Code 2308.301(b)(5).
All I can say, is that anyone who has been towed from any parking facility with a "Milstead Towing" sign posted as shown above, should seek an attorney and pursue action against the parking facility, since the statute of limitation is two years.
Between the illegal towing sign, the unauthorized charging of a second towing fee, and the various violations with the paperwork given to the consumer, this should be more than enough to prove that Amy Milstead- Ellzey is not qualified to advise the very state agency that regulates her business. These errors in judgment is ample reason to remove her from the Towing and Storage Advisory Board for the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations.
Had either of these incidents happened in Austin, Texas, these individuals that participated in this criminal conduct would have been arrested for auto theft, by the Austin Police Department Wrecker Enforcement Unit.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Unfortunately, for this applicant, he was denied, because the Austin Police Department through a city ordinance, keeps these types of career criminals from coming in contact with citizens in a tow truck.
It's sad knowing these career criminals can be issued a state license to continue their criminal conduct, using the threat of a tow truck hooked up to a vehicle or just outright steal a vehicle.
How some in the towing industry can sleep at night, knowing they employ career criminals aka murderers, child molesters, burglars, car thieves and serial rapists who prey on the public is totally unacceptable. These towing companies, are giving a black eye to the other towing companies who are obeying the law and providing a needed service to the public and parking facilities.
Now, there is another member of the Towing and Storage Advisory Board for TDLR, that is involved in shady business practices, as breaking into vehicles, driving them to their storage facility, then charging two towing fees to the consumer. They know who they are and they know their latest act was videotaped.
It would only make sense, to have individuals on any type of advisory board, who can say their company obeys the State Law without failing a polygraph.
A warning to parents of college student returning for the spring semester at a college in Texas. Brace yourself for your son or daughter calling for $200+ because their (your) vehicle was towed. With a slowing economy and many loosing their jobs, being burned by a wrecker driver could be the last straw for some people's financial woes.
Parents who can afford to send their children to higher learning universities, should have an attorney to recoup the towing and storage fees, from parking facilities, that frequently violate State Law, in the form of financial benefits from the towing company.
Example: You pay $300.00 to get your vehicle released, the parking facility could be liable to you for $1200.00 ($300 plus three times the total fee you paid)
Friday, January 16, 2009
This latest criminal illegal towing victim, is a private investigator.
Best Transport has a bad reputation with the Schertz Police Department, like many towing companies and vehicle storage facilities are to law enforcement agencies in their community.
Best, like Milstead, charged unauthorized fees, by way of charging a tow fee for the trailer, when the tractor and trailer were towed as one unit. TDLR Senior Investigator Russ Taulli has already said this practice, is illegal.
Earlier, I was in a conversation with a law enforcement member of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office in reference to the incident with Milstead, specifically, the conduct of Milstead's employees and the Deputy that was called, when this latest victim, John Eakins arrived to pickup his wrongfully towed tractor trailer.
The Lieutenant agreed, that for Amy Milstead, not to have known about the 23 tractor trailers towed from the Flying J, didn't whole water himself either.
From what I have learned about Milstead, they are large company, that has operated in Montgomery County for many years, and the incident at the Flying J was out of character for them, according to the law enforcement agencies we have been in contact with.
Regardless, several criminal offenses have occurred and those wrecker drivers who towed those vehicles without "probable cause" will be held responsible.
Just because a parking facility gives authorization to tow, doesn't mean the wrecker driver can knowingly violate the very law they supposedly trained for to be issued a TDLR Occupation License.
I saw firsthand what the criminal actions of employees do to a company's reputation.
If either these towing companies have any integrity, they would own up to their responsibility and refund those illegal towing victims their money. But, as for as Amy Milstead, her days on the TDLR Advisory Board are numbered!