A tow truck company is tow-tally in trouble.
The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, New York City Department of Investgation Commissioner, Mark Peters and NYPD Assistant Chief Brian McCarthy announced the takedown of what they’re calling an illegal monopoly that dominated the towing industry.
One by one 17 defendants in total were led into a courtroom Wednesday. Jaime Bautista, Joseph Castillo, David Conti, George Coppolino, Carl Fava, Jesus Garcia, Domenick Genise, Miguel Hernandez, Daunte Huff, Michael Mazzio, Angelo Mazzio, Salvatore Mazzio, Edwin Roig, Daniel Steininger, Karen Steininger, Norman Teitler and Maurece Wimberly each allegedly played a role in a scheme Vance says discouraged fair competition and created systematic fraud. Vance said the group took part in creating an illegal business model and at the top of the so called criminal enterprise was 44-year-old Daniel Steininger.
“The defendants under the direction of Daniel Steininger fraudulently acquired and consolidated various other towing companies and then stacked that roster with multiple companies that he controlled," Vance said.
From June 2015 to December 2017, investigators say Steininger worked to root out and restrict competition in the towing industry across all five of New York City's boroughs.
He allegedly managed a fraudulent monopoly in the industry by creating shell companies, obtaining false licenses with the city and giving the appearance others were owners.
“The companies had different names, the companies had different logos and different owners, but they were in effect fronts and shell companies for the Steineiger enterprise ,” Vance said.
The indictment alleges Steininger's drivers were also a part of this operation. They, according to the indictment, engaged in a practice called "chasing"- monitoring police scanners, heading to accident sites and securing the job before their competitors ever could.
The Manhattan District Attorney is also filing civil action, seeking to seize $20 million dollars, which Vance says were proceeds from Steininger’s alleged schemes.
The city's Department of Investigation says they have a number of recommendations for the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs, which is the agency in charge of issuing operating licenses to towing companies. Peters says he hopes the DCA will strengthen the current licensing system for towing companies, conduct more thorough background checks of these companies their owners and employees and if any tow company has had violations, the public be aware of it and the information should be posted on the DCA website.
Named in the indictment:
These are the businesses named in indictment. They are either shell towing businesses or auto body shops who worked with the towing enterprise to allegedly commit insurance: fraud.
Apple Towing, Inc.
Authorized Auto Body, Inc.
Broadway Car Salon, Inc.
D&D's Impressive Auto Collision, Inc.
Factory Plus Collision, Inc.
Mike's Heavy Duty Towing, Inc.
RJN Family Enterprises, Inc.
D/B/A Tabs Consulting, Inc.
Southside Collision, Inc.
Southside Collision and Towing, Inc.