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Friday, 23 May 2014 17:43

Pennsylvania Body Shop Embroiled in Alleged Towing Scheme with Philadelphia Police Department Dispatcher

Dorian Parsley, 44, a civilian police dispatcher, is accused of giving confidential police information—such as locations of auto accidents—to the owner of K & B Auto Body in Philadelphia, PA, William Cheeseman, and two other tow-truck operators Stepfon Flowers and Chad Harris, who at times worked for K&B.

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Parsley allegedly did it in exchange for bribes, collecting thousands of dollars in cash from February 2011 to December 2013, authorities say, according to reports in the Philadelphia Daily News.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the unsealing of an indictment against Parsley, of Philadelphia; Cheeseman, 42, of Delran, NJ; Flowers, 24, and Harris, 22, both of Philadelphia. All four are charged with conspiracy and bribery. Parsley and Flowers are also charged with honest-services fraud.

Three of the four defendants in the alleged bribery scam pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in federal court May 15, 2014. The fourth, Flowers, had previously plead not guilty. All have been released on $25,000 bond.

According to the indictment, the four entered into a scheme in which Parsley texted confidential police information—such as locations of auto accidents—to the tow-truck operators in exchange for bribes. She allegedly collected thousands of dollars in cash from February 2011 to December 2013.  For extra cash, Parsley allegedly also gave the tow-truck operators the names and addresses of vehicle owners.

A few years ago, “in response to a series of highly publicized, violent encounters between tow truck operators,” the city instituted a rotational towing program “to stop wreck chasing and to prevent accident victims from being taken advantage [of] by tow truck operators who engaged in price gouging,” the indictment says.

The rotational system was instituted in 2011 after the series of highly-publicized, violent encounters among tow-truck operators competing for business. In one case in September 2010, a Philadelphia tow-truck driver killed a rival operator.

K&B, on Kinsey Street near Worth, was on the rotation list.

Flowers gave Parsley $100 to $150 a week in exchange for the locations of auto accidents from February 2011 to December 2013. Cheeseman allegedly made weekly payments of $100 to $200 to Parsley from September 2012 to December 2013, according to the indictment. Harris allegedly paid Parsley about $200 about once a week from April to October 2013.

Police said Parsley, a civilian employee, is being suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.

Under the police department’s rotational-towing program, a dispatcher is first supposed to alert the next tow-truck operator on a call list about the location where a tow is needed.

Parsley’s lawyer Jonathan J. Sobel said that he and his client “haven’t gone through the indictment yet” and will be “looking to resolve the charges with the best results possible for Ms. Parsley.”

Fortunato “Fred” Perri Jr., Cheeseman’s lawyer, said, “We’re still reviewing the facts and circumstances of the indictment and any other allegations made by the government.” He added that “Mr. Cheeseman has been a well-respected member of the business community for the past couple of decades.” Both lawyers reiterated the not guilty pleas. Harris’ lawyer Anna Durbin declined to comment. Gregory Pagano, Flowers’ lawyer, did not return a call from the paper.

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