Tow truck drivers accused of charging city of Houston for tows they didn't make

The Safe Clear program was started in 2005 by then-Mayor Bill White. Four tow truck drivers were indicted Wednesday for allegedly bilking the city out of thousands of dollars for tows that didnt' happen
November 13, 2013 5:00:59 PM PST
A group of tow truck drivers are accused of bilking the city for tows they never provided.

Safe Clear was implemented by then-Mayor Bill White year in 2005. It was free tow off a Houston highway for your broken down ride; at least, free for the driver.

The city paid for the tow to keep traffic flowing and the city paid for hundreds of thousands of tows, including hundreds that court documents allege were never made.

This was no easy investigation. Detectives looked through thousands of Safe Clear tows, interviewed dozens of drivers, but were charging just these four, all of whom at some point worked for T&T Motors

The company told us Wednesday that the owner died in January and he was the only one who dealt with Safe Clear when he was alive.

Three of the four drivers indicted Wednesday no longer work for the company. The boss didn't say what she was going to do with the fourth.

His name is David Bishop and prosecutors say he put in for 239 fraudulent tows over a 3-year period, totaling more than $12,000.

"We were told the four were the best educated, most honest, most clear background people in the industry and we've proven it's not," said Suzanna Pool with the Houston Professional Towing Association.

Poole is a longtime critic of the program. She says Wednesday's indictments show it's not working.

Court documents suggest drivers were getting paid for cars they didn't tow, cars these drivers never towed and one driver who apparently told the city he towed his own car 12 times.

"Would that be a red flag to you as an owner?" said Poole.

But no owners were indicted Wednesday, only wrecker drivers, despite the fact the owners were the ones submitting paperwork to the city for payment.

The DA was not commenting Wednesday afternoon. Neither was HPD. But Jeanette Rash, a long-time supporter of the Safe Clear plan says only 435 fraudulent tows out of hundreds of thousands proves the system was working.

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