Bridgeport complex seniors blast company's towing practices
Seniors and people with disabilities who live at a Bridgeport complex said they are upset over a company's towing practices.
U.S. Army combat veteran Jesse Lynch, who is 92, lives at Fireside Apartments on the Upper East Side of Bridgeport. He said ever since his wife died, his daughters have become his caregivers.
"They help me with my laundry, food, cleaning," Lynch explained.
He said something happened during a recent visit that just didn't "sit right" with him.
"Somebody called me up and said, 'They're towing your daughter's car,'" Lynch recounted.
He said he rushed outside and saw somebody from Big Sam's Towing, owned by Sam Saunders preparing to tow the car. His daughter didn’t have a parking permit.
"I said, 'What do I need to get this wrecker out of the way?' He said, '$275, cash.' I go, 'I don't have that kind of money. I live in Fireside. I don't have that money.' And I said, 'Besides, it's cash. Where are you going too get cash?' And he said, 'Keep talkin' -- it's going up! Keep talkin' -- it's going up," Lynch said.
Lynch said he ended up paying the money but later called the only official he says he knows, City Councilwoman Maria Pereira. On Saturday, a news conference that Pereira organized quickly turned adversarial when Saunders and a group of his supporters showed up.
"If you're not in the proper parking spot, you get towed. It's very simple," Saunders said.
"The maximum tow allowed for a vehicle under 10,000 pounds, under state law, is $105," Pereira said.
Periera, surrounded by seniors and Fireside residents who have disabilities and their caregivers, said Saunders has been "fleecing a vulnerable population and breaking the law" in the process.
"He always demands cash. Will never accept a debit card or a credit card," Pereira said.
"All her allegations are lies," Saunders said.
Saunders said he's been contracted by Bridgeport Housing Authority to strictly enforce parking regulations and is just trying to make a living. He said in a statement, "Federal towing laws state explicitly that private-property towing is not governed by city, state or federal departments when it comes to fees and towing regulations, the statute being similar to that governing repossession of cars. After conducting a full investigation, Bridgeport police found my towing practices to be in full compliance with the law."
Pereira disputes all of Saunders' assertions.
Saunders said he temporarily stopped towing at the Fireside Apartments but will resume on Monday.
Lynch said there should be a special parking exemption for health care workers.
News 12 Connecticut reached out to both police and housing officials but has yet to hear back.