Cash, concerts and joyrides: St. Louis cops embroiled in towing scandal

| 11/10/2009

A federal case accusing some St. Louis police officers and a city towing company of fraud and bribery has revealed new details.

Since 2008, a federal investigation has revealed multiple instances of fraud and other bribery between a towing company and St. Louis police.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported on findings of its own investigation into the police department and St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, including police admitting that the daughter of former police chief Joe Mokwa and other officers were allowed to drive towed cars, and that the towing company didn’t pay $700,000 it owed the city for towing revenue.

Police and some towing company workers also allegedly towed and stored some vehicles improperly.

In recent court document filings, federal investigators reported finding large quantities of cash at Metropolitan Towing offices. The investigators also have hinted that police were allegedly bribed with concert tickets and cash gifts included in Christmas card mailings. 

According to the Post-Dispatch, the government hasn’t revealed how much cash was in the towing company’s building, though FBI Special Agent Dan Netemeyer stated in a Nov. 2 hearing “there was an enormous amount of currency there.”

Prosecutors have stated they have witnesses ready to testify about bribes, fraudulent records, and boosted mileage figures used to bilk insurance companies.

In August, former detective Kevin Shade pleaded guilty to mail fraud tied to the towing scandal. Shade reportedly admitted he accepted cash in order to help S&H Parking Systems obtain normal titles for seized cars and trucks rather than salvage titles.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

Editor’s note: The November edition of Land Line Magazine includes the first installment in a two-part series on expensive towing bills.