Thirty-one police officers from the city of Baltimore are under suspension and 17 are facing criminal charges for a allegedly taking kick-backs from a towing company. The charges involve officers sending auto accident victims to the Majestic Auto Repair Shop against procedural rules and Majestic, in turn, paying the officers for their business.
According to the Associated Press, the city may have been tipped off that something was awry by the arrest of a competitor in the towing business. The owner of Frankford Towing was arrested in 2009 when she approached an officer at an accident scene after seeing a Majestic tow truck present. She told him Majestic wasn’t city-authorized. The officer told her to leave and then arrested her. She subsequently filed a complaint.
In Baltimore, when a cop responds to an accident, he is to allow the accident victims to arrange for their own towing or call one of the city-authorized towing companies. Instead, the officers are accused of telling owners that Majestic would waive deductibles and help with the insurance claims. In return for their business, the officers would receive about $300 for each vehicle sent to Majestic.
Officers also told citizens not to contact their insurance companies prior to speaking with the shop workers at Majestic. One officer is said to have received $14,000 over a two year period.
While the police union will provide an attorney in cases where officers are accused of a misdemeanor, the same isn’t true for felony charges like fraud. The Associated Press reports the officers in question will have to appeal to the union’s board if they want representation in this particular case.
Both members of the towing industry and police officials are worried about reputations being damaged. The Police Union President cautions the public that this group of officers represents only a small portion of the 2,800 member force. The woman who complained after being arrested hopes the case doesn’t paint her and other upstanding tow companies in a negative light as well.
When you are in an accident or really whenever you have an opportunity to deal with the police, you want to believe they are going to act with integrity. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Baltimore has been a hotspot for allegations of police misconduct in recent decades and this means the opportunity always exists that you will run into one of the “bad apples” of the force.
When you are facing criminal charges, part of the job of your defense attorney is to ensure you are treated with respect to your rights. If a police officer crosses a line during your search or arrest, there may be the opportunity for your attorney to motion for a complete dismissal of all charges.
If you are facing any criminal charges, contact our offices today to discuss your options.