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$8.4-Million Claim Filed Against Hawthorne Over Towing Pact

August 17, 1986|GEORGE STEIN | Times Staff Writer

The losing bidder for the exclusive Hawthorne towing contract has filed an $8.4-million claim against the city alleging that Councilman Steve Andersen held an interest in the company with the winning bid.

Andersen, who was mayor in 1983 when the contract was awarded, and Gary Germain, president and owner of S&W Towing and Storage, the company that got the contract, both denied that they had any financial relationship at the time Andersen voted in favor of S&W Towing.

Attorney Thomas L. Brown said in an interview, however, that he had documents and witnesses to prove that they did. He said Andersen was in control of another towing company owned by Germain before the Hawthorne council voted to award its towing contract to Germain's S&W Towing.

Brown, who represents Jeffrey Pluemacher, owner of the now-defunct Larry's 24-Hour Towing Inc., declined to disclose details of his evidence.

"Baloney," said Andersen. "There are no such (documents and witnesses) because there can't be because nothing like that ever happened. I think what we have here is a disgruntled losing bidder. S&W was the low bidder and there had been numerous complaints against Larry."

Andersen acknowledged that in the two months after the vote, his business partner, attorney James Sloey, bought Beach City Towing, the other towing firm owned by Germain, which had a city contract with El Segundo. Andersen said he acquired stock in Beach City Towing shortly after that.

"I admit that was very poor timing," Andersen said.

The towing contract allegations involving the councilman follow by a week the news that Andersen bought a mobile home park in a Hawthorne redevelopment area, which would violate state law against conflict of interest. Andersen said that when he learned from city officials that the property was in the redevelopment area, he decided to sell his interest to Sloey.

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