- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 20, 2002

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams today will deliver the blueprint of his plan to clean up the District's towing industry.
An official in the mayor's office told The Washington Times yesterday that Mr. Williams will announce the specifics of new towing regulations for D.C. police and tow-truck drivers at a briefing this morning. He has also invited officials from the FBI's Washington Field Office to join him in the announcement, the source said.
Mr. Williams vowed to take action last year after the office of D.C. Inspector General Charles C. Maddox uncovered a scheme in which police officers and towing companies conspired to illegally confiscate cars and charge victims exorbitant storage fees.
The Times first reported on the inspector general's findings in August. Two victims of the scheme have since filed a class-action lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department and seven of the city's licensed towing companies.
Phillip Friedman, the lawyer representing victims in the class-action suit, says since it was filed early last month, more than 60 people have sought to join it.
Many of the victims are owners of cars with out-of-state license plates, which apparently have been targeted by rogue tow-truck drivers and police officers.
The mayor's office says it has taken longer than originally expected to draft the new towing regulations because legal problems with the D.C. Council.
Under the direction of Council member Carol Schwartz, head of the committee on public works, the council last month voted unanimously to give the mayor first say over the regulations but reserve the right of the council to review them before implementation.
Mrs. Schwartz, at-large Republican, previously told The Times that if the regulations called for "extraordinarily high" standard towing fees, she wanted to have a chance to weigh in.
Mr. Williams plans to devote the bulk of today's weekly press briefing to explaining how the new regulations will put an end to the ongoing problem of illegal towing operations in the District, a source in his office said.
The extent to which the FBI will be involved in the new regulations was not clear yesterday.
FBI officials confirmed that they would be involved in the briefing but declined to give further details until later today.

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