United Transport, and owner of the business, Curtis Wilson, Jr. were disciplined today by the Chattanooga Wrecker Board for multiple violations of the Chattanooga wrecker code. The company will be removed from the Chattanooga police’s wrecker rotation list for six months.
Violations the company made include infringement of the rule stating that a towing operator will not release any vehicle impounded by the city without authorization by the police department.
Additionally, the 2000 white Ford Ranger pick-up truck in question had a “police hold” because it had been involved with a hit-and-run incident. It is required that the officer who wrote the original tow-sheet give the approval for a release. This had not been done when the towing company released the vehicle for sale.
It is also a requirement that a vehicle impounded by the police be stored inside a building or fenced storage facility at the address stated on the tow-sheet, until the time of the release. This is another violation that was committed by United Transport in this case.
An additional abuse of the wrecker code was that the vehicle involved had been repaired without authorization from the owner.
Mary Sullivan Moore, attorney for Curtis Wilson, Jr. failed in her attempt to convince the Wrecker Board that United Transport was a separate entity from United Wrecker, a towing company owned by Curtis Wilson, Sr. Evidence showed that despite a separate address listed for United Transport at 2815 Calhoun Avenue, the business for both companies was actually conducted from 3810 Rossville Boulevard. This is the address of the company registered under Curtis Wilson, Sr. The two businesses shared forms and letterheads that used the Rossville Boulevard address as well as sharing a secretary, Mary Lee. She was responsible for looking up VIN numbers and sending certified letters for both father and son. The two businesses also employed the same storage lots.
The Ford Ranger was towed by United Transport on December 9, 2012 after being involved in a hit and run accident and was taken to 2815 Calhoun Avenue which is the address of the storage facility that was specified on the tow-sheet. It remained there until January, 2013 when it was moved to the Rossville Boulevard lot. Before being moved, Mr. Wilson, Jr. claimed that certified letters had been sent by Ms. Lee to the lien holder, Tweety Automart, as well as to the owner of the vehicle. Mr. Wilson, Jr. claimed to have received no response from the Automart or any authorization for release from the Chattanooga Police Department. Collection Manager for Tweety’s, Tammy Tapp,
denied ever receiving these letters.
Attorney Moore told the board that a state statute is in conflict with the city code pertaining to the time a vehicle must be held before disposing of it. The state law specifies the garage owner can start proceedings to get rid of a vehicle after 30 days of storage if not contacted by the lien holder. The city code says an impounded vehicle must be released by the police department.
Attorney Keith Reisman asked her how this was relevant to the fact that the vehicle was disposed of while it still had a police hold pending. “This doesn’t alleviate the hold that the police department has,” said Attorney Reisman.”
Tweety’s Automart that does in-house financing installs GPS systems in the vehicles it sells so they can be located in the event payments are not made. The tracking devices are activated if payments cease, said Ms. Tapp. The GPS history tracked this Ranger starting in December 2012, she said. Beginning in January 2013 it was moved multiple times despite the restriction that it remain impounded in the original location. Ms. Mapp and Paul Mills, who re-possesses vehicles for Tweety’s, had tried to contact both Mr. Wilson Jr. and Sr. about the truck, but got no response.
A public auction of the truck was advertised for February 27, 2013. However, transfer of the title to Curtis Sr. occurred on February 20, meaning he had owned the vehicle seven days before the published advertisement.
When asked, Mr. Wilson said no one showed up for the auction allowing him to buy the vehicle from his son for $185, which was the cost of the tow and storage. Commission member Phillip Sallee commented, “It’s hard for people to come to an auction when the date in the paper is wrong.”
Attorney Reisman summed up the testimony saying: It is clear that Mary Lee / United Wrecker was an agent of Curtis Wilson, Jr. There is nothing that says a transfer can be made when there is a police hold on a vehicle. The truck was sold seven days before the auction was to be held. Notices for the auction were defective and not appropriate. Repairs after a defective sale destroyed evidence in an on-going investigation. Four violations have been combined for one penalty. This is a second violation that the board has heard against this company since 2011. It is appropriate to suspend United Wrecker for six months and all services from the police rotation roster.
With a vote of four to two, the board agreed with Mr. Reisman and the motion to suspend the company was approved. Board member Ed Townson and Chairman James Hobbs voted no.
The same members functioning as the Chattanooga Beer Board approved a special events permit to sell beer at the Pops on the River event. This is the 13th annual Fourth of July Celebration that will be held at Coolidge Park. On July 3 from 6 p.m.-10 p.m., the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra will present a patriotic concert ending with a fireworks display. There will be food and drink vendors and is free to the public.
Haven and Ale, a new business to Chattanooga located at 304 Cherokee Boulevard, received approval for a consumer and carryout beer license. This is a craft beer retail store with a tasting room. It will sell 32 ounce and 64 ounce growlers. A customer will buy the bottle which can be brought back and refilled. Four three ounce tasting flights will be available. A tasting flight will be limited to one per visit.
Two locations for La Altena were approved for the sale of consumer beer. The location at 615 commercial Lane will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Hours of operation are the same for the restaurant at 314 Main Street, however it will not open on Sunday.
The next meeting of the Chattanooga Beer/Wrecker Board will be July 18 at 9 a.m.