SAN ANTONIO - The Trouble Shooters were first to uncover a big, local towing company was violating state rules and overcharging drivers. Now Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila has learned two former Bexar Towing officials are being investigated for insurance fraud, involving cars they towed.
Bexar towing makes a lot of money hauling off vehicles around San Antonio, about $200,000 a month, according to court testimony. The company had enough financial muscle to fight the city in court when police accused Bexar Towing of overcharging consumers.
Until recently Bexar Towing was paying out $2,000 a week to each of the company's four owners. Police claim that wasn't enough for two of the owners, Joe Guerrero and Christopher Morales.
“The allegations against both of these individuals are insurance fraud,” said Adriana Biggs, who heads up the white collar crime division at the district attorney's office.
Biggs says the cases against Guerrero and Morales involve bogus insurance claims on two expensive, luxury cars.
“They were not owned by the person who made the insurance claim, so you have proceeds going to the wrong individual,” Biggs said.
Here's how it worked, according to police reports: Last year Guerrero's company towed a Mercedes. The owner thought it had been stolen.
Two months later the car was involved in a crash. The driver ran off but was later identified as Bexar Towing part-owner Joe Guerrero. A witness picked him out in a photo lineup.
Guerrero claimed he wasn't driving the Mercedes, and that it had been stolen from him. The police report says Guerrero then filed an insurance claim for the damage from the crash.
“There's also tampering with a government record, which is the title which would prove ownership of the vehicle, so they're interconnected cases,” said Adriana Biggs with the D.A.’s office.
The other situation involved a BMW. The insurance company paid out $34,500 for hail and water damage to the car, even though Guerrero was no longer the registered owner. He had sold the BMW to his partner Christopher Morales.
The insurance company went looking for the car and was told it had been sold at one of Bexar Towing's auctions. However, the police report says the insurance company later found the BMW in Morales' driveway.
The insurance fraud investigation has set off a power struggle at Bexar Towing.
The other owners are trying to force out Guerrero and Morales.
We spotted Joe Guerrero at a smaller towing company owned by his brother, but when we asked to speak to Guerrero and Morales we were told they weren't there.
I did talk to Guerrero on the phone, and he denied committing insurance fraud but declined an on camera interview.
Bexar towing had no comment. The other owners are currently involved in a lawsuit with Guerrero and Morales for control of the company. The district attorney's office says they're looking at more insurance claims and the investigation could expand to include more people.