It was late 2011, Zyad Raheem said, when his boss asked him for a favor.
Raheem was a driver for Midway-based Advantage Towing, but this request had nothing to do with hauling cars.
Raheem said Advantage Towing’s owner, Ayman Arekat, wanted Raheem to make a donation to a San Diego politician.
“I didn’t know his name,” Raheem said. “I think it was Fletcher something.”
Arekat, Raheem said, proposed a deal: Raheem would make the donation and his boss would pay him back. And so on Dec. 28, 2011, city campaign filings list a $500 donation – the maximum allowed at the time – from Raheem to then-Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher’s San Diego mayoral campaign. Arekat, Raheem said, reimbursed him the full amount.
“I make the check,” Raheem said. “But I didn’t make the donation.”
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I do not believe it. No one should. Mr. Dillon is suggesting that we have the finest politicians that money can buy. He ought to know better ( or is it worse?)
Of course this is a sleazy business which wants support from sleazy politicians. You see towing operators and San Diego politicians are made for each other. I like it when the tow truck operators just said that all of his employees just felt so inclined to give the maximum political contribution on the same day. It reminds me of one of an old SNL skit (Cheeseburger .. no Coke .. Pepsi) with John Belushi when their Olympia restaurant mysteriously burned down and all of the employees told the insurance investigator they all had expensive sets of golf clubs destroyed in the fire. This is just as funny.
Wow, I am so shocked that Dumanis would be involved in more shady schemes for campaign contributions. Does she even have any legit money in that account, lol?
Not surprising. The tow industry is one of the biggest rackets. My car was illegally towed in downtown. Parked lawfully and I came back to find it gone with a temporary "no parking" sign in its place. The company that stored the car wasn't the one that towed it and they refused to tell me which company had towed it or why. The tow company blamed the police. The police blamed the tow company. The city's risk management department blamed a construction company that was working in the area. The construction company blamed the police. I called Todd Gloria's office but they weren't able to make any headway either. The parking authority agreed with me and refunded my money for the parking ticket but the tow fee was 6x the amount of the ticket. It sucks that a private citizen can't get any recourse and shady stuff like this is going on.
@Tanner Songer The police should put out bait cars where cars are known to be illegally towed.
The article notes that "the DA’s office hasn’t prosecuted a towing-related crime in nearly a decade, though many of them, such as towing a car from a private lot without a property owner’s explicit permission, are misdemeanors that the DA’s office typically doesn’t go after."
But I recall an incident several years ago (perhaps 2010 or 2011) in which a law enforcement task force planted cars at a private lot and held a stake out to ensure that towing companies properly followed the law (call from property owner not a drive by, at least an hour, etc.). At least one tow driver was arrested for auto theft, on the theory that he would roll on his boss. I don't recall the follow up - whether charges actually were filed, but the timing (immediately before Dumanis 2012 Mayoral run) is interesting.
Western Towing (San Diego) circumvents the law by using a "roper." Rather than having the property owner call they use a guy named Frank Sezma, not connected with the property owner, who then receives a kick-back from Western Towing. He fills out the paper work and claims to be the owner's representative (although he walks the property in a Western Towing jacket) and, in at least one case, filled out paperwork claiming the car arrived well before it actually did.
Complaints to SDPD or the City Attorney's Consumer Protection office are meaningless.
@Victor Torres Victor, no one, with the power to investigate, cares. The Attorney General certainly does not. It has been an open scandal, for years, that Hispanics were targeted for towing (biased-policing.) Biased-policing is illegal on many levels.
The AG should have noticed, but she has political ambitions. It has been said that she believes she needs support from powerful people; cops included. I suppose that she cannot do maths.
Follow the money in Escondido. The contract between the tow operator and the city is valuable because they often auction off the cars they impound when people can't pay the storage fees.
When I investigated back in 2010 the cost of the contract had nearly doubled over previous years.
Check out who these people support in the upcoming election cycle. Sam Abed's campaign may be a good one to watch as he runs for Supervisor.