Tow company owned by former Pennsylvania state senator accused of overcharging

Invoices obtained by the investigative team show Capital Towing overcharged a vehicle owner by more than $500.
MORTON, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- An increasing number of municipalities are passing laws to prevent predatory towing to protect consumers.

But the Action News Investigative team has found some municipalities rely on an honor system to make sure the law is being followed.

Our investigation uncovered some questionable bills by Capital Towing out of Morton, Delaware County.

The company is owned by Tom McGarrigle, a former state senator and current chair of the Delaware County Republican Party.

We began asking Marple Township officials questions about two towing bills. Officials said they're going to begin conducting audits.

"We just want to make sure people aren't getting ripped off, and the insurance companies aren't getting ripped off, and make sure they doing right by the people," said Marple Township Police Chief Brandon Graeff.

Chief Graeff tells Action News changes are in order after two vehicles were towed on March 17 following an accident at the intersection of Sproul and Springfield roads in Broomall.

Invoices obtained by the investigative team show Capital Towing charged a vehicle owner $945 for a one-day tow.

But under Marple Township law, that was $520 too much.

Among the charges: $250 in additional labor charges and $225 in special equipment charges. Neither are allowed.

And the company wrongly billed for the storage rate and number of days.

Larry Gentile, the Marple Township manager, called it concerning.

"This came to light because a motorist went to pick up her car and noticed an incredibly high tow bill for one day," he said.

McGarrigle declined our request for an on-camera interview.

In a phone interview, he acknowledged the overcharge, calling it a mistake by a secretary who accidentally billed for a different tow from Glen Mills.

Concord Township does not currently have a towing ordinance.

He said when the company was alerted, it refunded the excess charges.

"We've never had a complaint and they've always been great to and for us, to the people as we know. Maybe it was an oversight," said Chief Graeff.

But it appears the owner of the other vehicle involved in the accident was also billed too much.

That invoice also had a line item charge for labor, this time for $100 which, again, isn't allowed.

Its owner likely doesn't know because it was a duty tow, meaning Marple Township police called for the tow after an accident.

"Insurance companies are generally going to pick up a car from a tow yard from a crash. We as consumers never see that," said Chief Graeff. "We just pay our insurance. Insurance cuts a check, everyone is happy."

A key question is: how long has Capital Towing been overcharging for Marple Township tow service?

Currently, only two companies are licensed with the township for duty tows: Capital and K&S Towing.

Since the questionable tow bills, Gentile says the township plans to begin performing audits of all duty tows but it does not plan to do audits for prior years.

"We're going to be sending correspondence to our two tow services, that effective May 1, we'll need to get a copy of all their invoices," said Gentile.

McGarrigle said his company welcomes an audit.

We checked with a few other municipalities in Delaware County and found none do audits.

However, neighboring Haverford Twp. said it is going to require invoices with all duty tows moving forward.

Marple Township told us it can revoke licensing for duty tows if companies do not follow township rates and laws.

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