Prince George’s Co. tow company owner pleads guilty to illegal towing practices

WASHINGTON — A Prince George’s County tow company owner has pleaded guilty to illegally towing vehicles and overcharging drivers to get them back over a nine-month period in 2014.

On Friday, Frederick Cooper — the owner of FFC Towing — pleaded guilty to nine counts of violating the county code for illegally towing cars in the country from January through October 2014. He struck a plea deal after being indicted last year.

For the crimes, he received a 27-month suspended jail sentence, three years of probation and is required to surrender his county towing license.

A majority of the illegal tows happened in the parking lot next to Sylvestre Chicken in Suitland, Maryland.

The business had an agreement with Cooper to tow vehicles that parked illegally in its lot, according to a release from the Office of the State’s Attorney. The tow drivers would watch drivers who parking in the business’ lot, and then begin hooking up the cars, the release says.

When the car owners approached the tow drivers, they were asked to pay a fee of more than the county-approved $50 to get their car released, the Office of the State’s Attorney release says. Also, the tow drivers often told the car owners they were not allowed to pay the fee or towing charges with a credit card — a violation in county and state law.

Additionally, the tow company failed to file and maintain records required by law, including tow slips and photos of the violations.

Jurisdictions around the country and the region are aiming to end these kinds of predatory towing practices. A federal law passed in December gives states and local governments more power to regulate towing companies.

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Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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