BRAZOS COUNTY A local towing company is the subject of a state investigation for operating without a license. Its two sub-companies are being fined more than $15,000.
According to a stack of complaints against AJ's Wrecker Service and Lone Star Wreckers, the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulations says the businesses conducted towing operations quote, "Without honesty, trustworthiness and integrity" after operating with expired licenses. Now both companies are being suspended for two years and fined $15,750.
We reached out to their owner, Anthony Tribble over the phone who said, “I didn't realize they were expired until like two weeks afterwards when I went to go renew them and I went to shut those companies down and they said we have to have renewal or we'll have to fine you. The companies were going out of business anyway so I didn't renew them."
Records indicate the licenses for both companies expired at the end of March. State affidavits say the two companies continued illegally towing for nearly 30 days, even after the state had contacted them about it.
“It's up to each individual law enforcement agency that when they place the towing company on a rotation list that they ensure the company is licensed,” said Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations Public Information Officer Susan Stanford.
And that's exactly what happened, according to Bryan Police. According to the records, on April 18th, Lone Star Wreckers arrived to scene to perform what’s called an “Incident management tow.” Bryan Police observed that Lone Star Wrecker Service’s license had expired on March 30th. Bryan PD subsequently issued a tow ticket and reported the violation to the state.
State officials say the licensing is used for accountability. It lets them keep track of who's operating fairly and honestly - and it's the law.
"You can compare it to driving with an expired license or if a cosmetologist or barber continued operating with a cosmetology license; the bottom line is it's against the law," said Stanford.
Nicole: “How do you expect people to trust you?”
Anthony Tribble: "It's just like if your driver’s license gets expired; you get pulled over, and you get a ticket. I'm not dishonest; I made a mistake and I'm paying for it.”
The state says there's no evidence of any material wrongdoing other than the licensing lapse... But they maintain Tribble has 12 months to pay off the fines. And for those who were towed by unlicensed Tribble's companies, there is a way for you to challenge the charges they assessed against you.
If you have received a ticket violation from AJ’s Wrecker Service and Lone Star Wrecker any time after March 31st, you are asked to call the office of the Brazos County Justice of the Peace to report the claim.
There are at least 11 other towing companies in Brazos County that have been fined for various illegal towing issues from the state. According to the state's website, FGC Towing Company out of Bryan was issued an $11,000 fine in 2011.
For more information on towing companies, you can find the TDLR Website link below this story.