Terry T Posted December 7, 2008 Share Posted December 7, 2008 Steve is (was) a member here.http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/northberge....xml&coll=3COPS: TOWING CO. IN CRASH & BURN SCAMBoss, four drivers arrested; probe 'looking at lots of illegal activity'Saturday, December 06, 2008 By MICHAELANGELO CONTEJOURNAL STAFF WRITERNORTH BERGEN - The owner of a towing service with a township contract and four of his drivers stole trucks and tried to launch them from a cliff in a scheme to get the recovery fees, police said yesterday. "I don't know how big this will become," said North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, implying at a press conference yesterday that the charges related to HighPoint Towing may be the tip of the iceberg. "All other agencies are now actively working on this." HighPoint owner Steven Avella, 53, was arrested on charges of arson for hire, conspiracy to commit theft and two counts of insurance fraud, police said. Police said he paid his workers up to $600 to take the two trucks. Driver Vincent Garrison, 28, of Union City, was charged with arson for hire, theft, conspiracy to commit theft and possession of burglary tools, police said. Driver Brian Sheppard, 29, of Secaucus, was charged with aggravated assault by auto and witness tampering, police said. Driver Rafael Morales, 40, of Union City, was charged with theft, possession of burglary tools and conspiracy to commit theft, police said. Former driver Christopher Baulch, 30, of Lyndhurst, was charged with theft and conspiracy to commit theft, police said. "Without giving away too much about our investigation, there is a lot of illegal activity we are looking at," said Lt. Frank Cannella, adding that there was no evidence the owners of the vehicles had any involvement. Police say the drivers were paid by Avella, 53, of Union City, to steal two trucks that the drivers then attempted to launch from a cliff behind a Paterson Plank Road car wash, police said. The trucks got caught up on trees at the top of the cliff to Tonnelle Avenue. A truck carrying a dumpster was stolen, driven off the cliff and salvaged by HighPoint on Oct. 5, police said. On Oct. 17, they did the same thing with the cab of a tractor trailer, but the township uses two towing services and HighPoint's shift was almost over. Cannella said the drivers feared the other company would get the $18,000 towing fee, so they lit the truck on fire to get immediate action. That incident also triggered the investigation, Cannella said, adding that the truck was totaled and the insurance company paid the owner $118,000, police said. The towing company has locations on Tonnelle Avenue and 54th Street in North Bergen and 22nd Street off Bergenline Avenue in Union City, police said. HighPoint has towing contracts at the state and federal levels as well. Workers at the North Bergen garage chose not to comment on the arrests yesterday afternoon. Avella is being held at Hudson County jail in Kearny on a bail of $75,000 cash only. The four drivers posted bail. Additional local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies were involved in the probe. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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