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October 12, 2004
 Adam Radinsky, Deputy City Attorney, (310) 458-8327

The Santa Monica City Attorney's Office has filed criminal charges against the owners of three towing companies that do business in Santa Monica for a variety of illegal towing practices. The three companies are: 

     Classic Towing  (owner Socorro Lopez)
     Concord Towing  (owner Ameer Antoon)
     William's Tow & Impound  (owner William Amaya)

The owners are charged with violating various of the following laws:

     1. towing a car from a business location without authorization
     2. excessive towing or storage charges
     3. refusing to accept a credit card for payment
     4. operating without a business license

All three owners are set to be arraigned tomorrow morning at the LAX courthouse in Los Angeles.

Lopez (Classic Towing) faces seven criminal counts: six infractions and one misdemeanor. Three of the counts are for towing cars from a business without the business's approval.

"Many people don't know that it's illegal to tow a car from a business without the written authorization of the business owner or an employee - even when there's a tow-away sign posted," said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky who is prosecuting the cases. "That means that during hours when a business is closed, cars can't be towed unless the towing company gets approval from the business right then."

California law also requires towing companies to accept credit cards. William's Tow and Classic Towing are charged with breaking that rule.

It's also illegal for towing companies to charge more than the going rate approved by the local police department - or to charge for two days' storage when a car has been impounded less than 24 hours. Concord and Classic are accused of excessive charges.

Car owners also can sue the towing company in Small Claims Court for violations of these laws and receive four times the amount they paid.

"We hope these cases send a wakeup call to all towing companies doing business in Santa Monica that the laws will be enforced here," said Radinsky.

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