The two-month long ban on five Mobile towing companies has been lifted after a hearing in city council Tuesday.
While the Mobile Police Department has ended its investigation into allegations of insurance fraud and price gouging, a separate investigation by the district attorney’s office is expected to continue, according to MPD attorney Wanda Rahman.
Assistant District Attorney Clay Rossi did not respond for comment.
The towing companies are to be added back to the rotational list Tuesday afternoon.
While the lifting of the ban would ordinarily be cause for celebration, many tow drivers and company owners remain aggrieved at what they described after the meeting as a significant loss of income and reputation.
Danny Williams, owner of Southport Towing, said “hell no” when asked if this was the end of the issue.
“We’re not sure how to proceed but we’ve lost 60 percent of our business over the last two months and not been charged with anything,” he said.
Teresa Hoffman, a former private investigator and wife of a Southport tow truck driver, gave testimony and evidence to the seven person city council despite being told that that the ban was over. She said that she had found evidence of a $6,175 overcharge by Pitts & Sons dating back to a traffic incident May 3 of this year. An 18-wheeler truck overturned inside the Wallace Tunnel.
Among the charges was a $4,450 winching fee, which is not listed in the Mobile City towing ordinance as an authorized charge. After discovering that his own department had been charging fees outside of the ordinance, Chief of Police Lawrence Battiste confirmed with AL.com last month that winching was not permitted. The director of public safety James Barber said during city council Sept. 3 that winching was not permitted.
After being presented with the Pitts & Sons evidence Tuesday, MPD attorney Wanda Rahman advised Barber that winching was allowed. She later explained to the city council that the high charges were allowed because of the unique nature of the accident.
“This is a tractor trailer that has commodity on it that’s rolled over,” said Rahman while explaining why the $4,450 charge was legal. “You can charge winching for a tractor trailer because if it’s rolled over you’ve got to up right it.”
She added: “You’re allowed in the ordinance to charge for winching.”
In response to her comments, Hoffman said that Rahman “lied through her teeth.”
Rahman did not respond to calls and emails from AL.com.
This story is developing and will be updated.