The owner of Frank's Towing was arrested last week on tax fraud charges.
Over the past few years the county has received numerous complaints that the company overcharged customers and towed cars that did not violate any laws.
Arlington County police charged the company’s owner, George King, with 20 counts of failing to register and report business income, withholding payroll taxes and failing to file those taxes with the government.
Each charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. An arrest warrant for King, 45, was issued Nov. 23 and on Nov. 28 he turned himself in.
When King failed to show for a Nov. 30 court date, a judge issued a bench warrant, and he was arrested at his office and spent the night in jail, police spokesman Matt Martin said.
King, a former Arlington police officer during the 1980s and a Woodbridge resident, is due back in court this week for unpaid fines and restitution, Martin said.
THE INVESTIGATION into Frank’s Towing began in the summer of 2004, following years of accusations of price gouging.
“We had a large number of complaints that Frank’s Towing was overcharging and towing cars that had permission to be where they were,” Martin said.
Arlington residents accused the company of charging more than the mandated $85 towing fee during weekdays and $95 during weekends and evenings.
Investigators determined that the company operated under up to four different corporate names. “That raised some red flags,” Martin said. “We wanted to know why the same person, doing the same business, would use several different corporate names.”
Police obtained a search warrant for the company’s offices, located in the 6800 block of N. Fairfax Drive, in November 2004. Investigators collected more than 15 boxes of receipts and documents and are using them to show that the company withheld payroll taxes and did not file proper tax forms, Martin said.
Because of a federal law, state and local officials have little oversight of the towing industry. Arlington officials and residents are engaged in a lobbying effort to change these laws.
“The towing industry needs to be regulated because they are just out for a quick buck and are going to tow anything slightly questionable,” said Linda Johnson, who has twice had her car illegally towed from her colonial village parking lot.