Feds say tow company illegally sold service members’ cars

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The lawsuit filed Friday accuses Steve’s Towing of Virginia Beach of illegally seizing and selling vehicles belonging to seven military personnel.

NORFOLK, Va. — Federal prosecutors have filed a complaint accusing a Virginia company of illegally taking and selling military vehicles.

The lawsuit filed Friday accuses Steve’s Towing of Virginia Beach of illegally seizing and selling vehicles belonging to seven service members, including a SEAL team member while deployed overseas.

Federal officials said in court papers that the seizures violated the Military Civil Assistance Act, which requires towing companies to obtain a court order before auctioning off military vehicles. The law also prohibits towing companies from applying storage privileges during military deployment and for 90 days afterward.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the service members involved, a civil penalty and a court order prohibiting Steve’s Towing from auctioning the seized vehicles without a court order.

According to the lawsuit, two vehicles belonging to a member of the SEAL 2 team and bearing Arizona tags were towed from a parking lot across from the team’s headquarters in Little Creek in January. While Steve’s Towing asked Virginia’s DMV for vehicle records, he did not check with Arizona.

Thirty-six days after the vehicles were towed, Steve’s Towing filed liens for $970 to cover the cost of storing each vehicle.

That same day, company president Steven E. Gilliam reported to the Virginia DMV that the company had enforced liens by purchasing the two vehicles from itself for $500 each. The company never got a court order to do so.


The Daily Press reports that Gilliam did not return a call seeking comment.


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