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Appeals judge rules against tow company, regulators see it differently

Bill on Polis' desk adds consumer towing protections
towing car.jpg
Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 20:44:09-04

DENVER — The courts have decided twice that a Colorado tow company had stepped over the line, but the agency responsible for regulating tow companies saw it differently.

Earlier this year, a Denver judge ruled that Dene Attaway's car was "illegally towed" from her apartment complex, and an appeals court judge upheld the decision this month.

"I am so happy, so relieved," Attaway said. "Justice was served, and I appreciate you guys stepping in."

Attaway got her car back, and is now hoping she can get the money a judge ruled she is owed.

At the same time, two courts agreed Attaway's car was illegally towed, state regulators found no violations to rules.

"The PUC did nothing," Attaway said. "I hoped they would take away his license or at least hold him accountable with fines. There is some level of corruption, it seems, going on here."

Towing companies are regulated by the Public Utilities Commission, and a PUC investigator found that Towing Done Right had "not violated PUC rules."

Towing Done Right's owner, Joel Perri, has a criminal history, including a 2008 felony theft judgment that he still has not paid restitution for, according to Denver District Attorney spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler.

In an email, Perri demanded Contact Denver7 run a story on the PUC finding, but would not respond to requests for comment about losing the appeal or his license to boot cars.

The PUC also declined our requests for an interview and stated that showing Denver7 complaints against Towing Done Right would cost more than $1,000.

"I think there is a little bit of gotcha kind of mentality going on, right?" said state Rep. Naquetta Ricks, who said she has heard too many complaints and wants someone held accountable. "I think it's great that you guys are covering this because this is impacting community out here."

House Bill 21-1283, which she sponsored, is currently on Gov. Jared Polis' desk. It offers more consumer towing protections by beefing up the Towing Task Force.

"It's bad enough to get your car towed, but then when you get these high costs, now, you have to face, do I pay my rent? Do I pay childcare?" Ricks said. "There are agreements between the tow truck companies and the management companies. So, we want to look into those contracts a little bit too and see what's going on because it seems like it only helps the tow truck companies and maybe the management, but not the average consumer."

Attaway says her case is proof the state rules need more teeth to keep tow companies from stepping over the line.

"That they're looking at the laws pertaining to these tow companies. That's huge. That is huge," Attaway said. "They need to be stopped. There needs to be some some oversight on what these tow companies are doing."

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