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Woman claims police forced her to use LAG Towing, says she was price gouged

The events surrounding a two-year-old crash could figure prominently in the ongoing investigation of L.A.G. Towing. Judy Mallott contacted Eyewitness News saying she was charged $650 for a tow and one night of storage by L.A.G., and she says police forced her to use L.A.G..
Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County- Judy Mallott found herself angry all over again. I-Team reports on Eyewitness News earlier this week refueled her disgust over a 2010 crash that ended with a $650 bill from L.A.G. Towing and a lack of interest, she says, from police to do anything about it.

Mallott, in a detailed interview on Thursday with Eyewitness News, said she rear-ended a truck on Kidder Street, badly damaging the front-end of her 2008 Jeep Compass. Unable to drive it, police and the fire department quickly responded to the scene. Mallott said she had already placed a phone call to a towing service in Plains Township. That was met with resistance from officers of the Wilkes-Barre Police Department. According to Mallott: "The police officer said, 'We can't wait for that,'" she quoted the officer as having said. "The city has a tow company of their own. I'm going to call them. You have to get off the road."

Mallott complied, but not before taking a number of cell phone pictures of her damaged car. Mallott claims officers later noted that she had documented her damaged vehicle to an L.A.G. employee.

In a matter of five minutes, Mallott said her car was on the wrecker and being hauled away. But her attempts to arrange for its immediate release from an L.A.G. yard in south Wilkes-Barre failed. She was hoping to have her car towed to a repair shop by a towing company that she originally had wanted to use. "And I said, well they can be there and get before it even goes in the yard," Mallott said. "And he said, 'No we're closing, it has to be put in and locked in,'" she said, quoting an L.A.G. worker.

The next day, Mallott said she received a $650 bill for the towing and the 16 hours her car spent on the L.A.G. lot. "$600 for leaving it there on a parking lot full of broken cars overnight," she balked.

Reached for comment Thursday night, city spokesman Drew McLaughlin said he couldn't immediately track down specifics on Mallott's incident with L.A.G.. Calls to L.A.G. owner Leo Glodzik were not returned. A day earlier, Glodzik continued a familiar refrain of denying any wrongdoing in what has been a week of critical stories for the city's exclusive towing contractor.

According to Eyewitness News archives, records may not be available to determine how the towing contractor handled Mallott's case. In a January interview with Glodzik, he acknowledged the chief of police, Gerard Dessoye, told him not to keep records. This reporter asked Glodzik: "Did the chief of police instruct you in any way shape or form to not keep records?" He responded: "He (Desoye) told me he doesn't need the records because he already has them." Holden followed, "So did you stop keeping records on your own?" Glodzik responded: "Yes I did."

Mallott said she recently began tracking reports of L.A.G. from Eyewitness News.

About the $650 bill. "Oh I definitely felt like I was being taken," Mallott said. "I called the police and they said they can't do anything about it. It's a city contract."

The contract between Glodzkik and the city appears to be iron clad, depending on the situation. For instance, the city has received upwards of 30 complaints. Many of them, according to a spokesman, have been weeded out, dismissed or settled. Eyewitness News was told the number of outstanding complaints is small in comparison to the swelling criticism contained in reports published in the city's two daily newspapers and broadcast on Eyewitness News. But the city has rejected action on a number of perceived contract violations, including the apparent failure by L.A.G. to properly maintain records. Mayor Thomas Leighton, on Wednesday, waved off most of the criticism as political or self-serving attacks.

But Mallott is a fresh face, not heard from since her car's front end was smashed nearly three years ago. She said complaints made by her to police the day after the crash fell flat. "They were just matter-of-fact, this is how it's done, this is the way it is, deal with it," she said. "They pretty much dismissed me."
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