The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office delayed reporting recovered stolen vehicles in order to increase tow yard storage bills, county Circuit Judge Robert Colombo said Friday.
Colombo, who retired earlier in the year but was hearing the case because it originated on his docket, said deputies, along with Nationwide Recovery, did not promptly notify owners, who had no idea their vehicles had been recovered and were sitting at a storage yard for $25 a day, The Detroit News reported.
“There is a complete failure to make certain that recoveries are timely reported in length,” Colombo said, The Detroit News reported. “The impact is significant to the owners of the vehicles because the later they are notified, the more the storage fees accrue.”
Charges include a $225 hook-up fee, a $75 administrative fee and the $25-a-day storage fee, The Detroit News reported.
“It is deeply troubling that Wayne County sheriff’s deputies ignore evidence holds with respect to vehicles that are recovered by them and impounded by Nationwide,” Colombo said. “They are clearly interfering with the investigations of car thefts in the city of Detroit. Since no investigation is generally done by recovering sheriff deputies, it is impossible to determine how much evidence has been lost because of these recoveries.”
Attorneys with Nationwide said the hearing was a positive outcome.
“For 18 months, the city, at every opportunity, has engaged in character assassination and accused Nationwide of stealing vehicles,” Marc Deldin, an attorney for Nationwide Recovery, told The Detroit News on Friday. “Judge Colombo concluded that the city failed to satisfy the lowest evidentiary burden in the legal system."
The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is waiting for Colombo’s official ruling.
“While Judge Colombo may have verbalized his findings during the court proceeding, a jurist officially speaks through their written orders,” Wayne County Undersheriff Daniel Pfannes told The Detroit News. “It is my understanding that Judge Colombo will be issuing an order on this matter sometime next week."
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