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Vice mayor avoids towing, impounding fees

June 18, 2007|Scott Glover | Times Staff Writer

Maywood Vice Mayor Felipe Aguirre has been a vocal critic of a tow truck company owner who has treated his City Council colleagues to dinners and trips while collecting millions of dollars from an exclusive contract with the city.

Last week, however, Aguirre wasn't above accepting a gift of his own when his sport utility vehicle, which was parked in front of his business, was towed.

Though he should have had to pay hundreds of dollars to the city and to Maywood Club Tow, Aguirre was allowed to reclaim his 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee for free.

Police Chief Richard Lyons waived the city's $200 fee for reclaiming an impounded vehicle, and the company owner, Tooradj Khosroabadi, opted not to charge Aguirre the standard $120 for the towing and one-day storage of his vehicle. Aguirre owes $50 for the parking violation.

Aguirre made no apologies for what he acknowledged was special treatment.

"I didn't ask for any of this. I was willing to pay all the fees, but that's not what happened," Aguirre said in an interview Friday. "I know what it looks like, and, well, you know, so be it."

Aguirre said he didn't think an average citizen would have received the same consideration he did, but that they should.

"That's really the way I'd like everybody to be treated, with the same respect," he said.

Aguirre's Jeep was parked in a no parking zone in front of his business on Slauson Avenue when it was towed June 10.

Thinking it had been stolen, he called police the next morning. Aguirre said he was told that the vehicle, which wasn't registered or insured, had been towed. Later that day, he said, he received a phone call from Lyons.

Aguirre said he explained to Lyons that the car was "inoperable" and had been parked on the street to make room for an event Aguirre was holding at his office.

Based on that information, Lyons said in an interview, he decided to give Aguirre a break by waiving the city's fee. He said he has occasionally done the same for other car owners with extenuating circumstances.

The chief said he didn't tell Khosroabadi what to do one way or another.

Khosroabadi declined to comment. But a source close to him, who is familiar with the transaction, said the tow company owner felt compelled to release Aguirre's Jeep for free.

The source said Khosroabadi was swayed by a handwritten note on the release form that Aguirre submitted to get his car back. It read: "Per Chief Lyons release vehicle with no questions asked."

Aguirre then asked that his Jeep be towed back to his business, which Khosroabadi did -- at no charge.

scott.glover@latimes.com

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