Detroit Tow Truck Driver Not Stealing Cars

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( — April 30, 2013) Detroit, MI — Wayne County Judge Daniel Hathaway found F. Gomez of Detroit not guilty of felony Unlawfully Driving Away a Motor Vehicle (UDAA) after two days of testimony and arguments. Gomez was a tow truck driver for 313 Towing in the City of Detroit. On November 26, 2012 at 4:00 a.m. Gomez was dispatched to tow a 2006 Chrysler 300 located on Logan Street in Southwest Detroit. The person who requested the tow identified himself as “Chase”. Chase stated it was his car and he wanted to take it from his ex-wife. Gomez, who did not check the caller’s paperwork or identification began hooking up the Chrysler 300 and lifting it onto his flatbed.

While lifting the 300 onto the flatbed, Rosalinda Garza, the car’s owner came outside to protest the tow. Gomez believed that it was the caller’s wife so he snubbed her. Gomez told Garza that he has orders to tow the car – he did not know if it was a repo or what. Garza retrieved her car payment bill to show Gomez that her payments were timely. Gomez ignored her and continued to tow the car. Before leaving with the car Gomez provided Garza with her his cell phone number and told her to call 313 Towing for more information. Garza called the police. When the police arrived Garza stated that Gomez stole her car and provided the police with 313 Towing’s phone number.

Gomez followed Chase in the gold Cadillac Escalade he was driving to a nearby neighborhood at Dix and Verner. Chase asked Gomez to drop the 300 near his home at that location. After leaving the location Gomez received a phone call from dispatch demanding that he return to the tow location on Logan Street to answer to the police. Gomez immediately returned to the scene and told the police what happened. He was arrested for stealing the car.

On cross examination of the police officer who responded to the scene it was disclosed that they never attempted to investigate the location of the drop that evening. The vehicle has yet to be recovered.

Garza testified and admitted on cross examination that she never showed proof of ownership of the vehicle to Gomez – only the payment statement.

Defense attorney called the owner of 313 Towing who testified that he never provided any formal training to Gomez regarding his responsibility to demand proof of ownership of a vehicle that is requested to be towed.

The 313 Towing dispatcher also testified confirming that Gomez was in fact dispatched to tow the vehicle and that he received the phone call from the police. Upon speaking with the police he ordered Gomez to return to the scene.

Veteran prosecutor Jane Gillis of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s PATU (prosecutor auto theft unit) argued that Gomez helped the caller steal the car and did not have the right to tow it away. Gillis stated if he did not know, he should have known when Garza showed him her paperwork.

Gomez’s attorney, Barton Morris, correctly pointed out that UDAA is a specific intent crime which means that the prosecution must prove that Gomez knew he did not have the right to take the car but did it anyway. Attorney Morris further argued that the circumstances clearly demonstrate that Gomez did not know. He should have checked the caller’s paperwork but he was never specifically trained to do so. He provided Garza with his cell phone number and pointed out the number of 313 Towing which was clearly displayed on his tow truck before he left with her car. He also immediately returned to the scene when requested to answer to the Detroit Police.

After careful deliberation Judge Hathaway found that Gomez’s actions were not intelligent as he should have demanded proof of ownership, but they were not unlawful and felonious. The evidence suggested that Gomez really did not know that he thought he was helping another steal the car. Because the prosecution did not prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt Gomez was found not guilty.

After the trial Detroit defense attorney Barton Morris stated he believed that Garza and the caller used Gomez to accomplish an insurance fraud. Luckily Gomez will not be punished for his unknowing participation. Now Gomez can go back to his life of honest work having learned the hard way about his job responsibilities. 


For more information about Attorney Barton Morris visit his website at or send an email at


The Law Offices Of Barton Morris

321 South Williams Street 
Royal Oak, MI 48067

(248) 541-2600