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Fla. towing company owner charged with illegally towing cars during Gay Days

Sunday, July 27, 2014
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Jason Combs is arrested for illegally towing cars during Florida’s annual Gay Days last month.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Authorities have arrested a Florida towing company operator they say illegally towed cars during Orlando’s 2014 Gay Days celebration.

Orange County Sheriffs deputies arrested 45 year-old Jason Combs for towing more than 100 vehicles between June 5 and June 9. The annual Gay Days festivities draw tens of thousands to the Orlando area and Walt Disney World.

The arrest came after numerous complaints that Combs’ ASAP Towing company targeted victims based on their sexual orientation.

Authorities say ASAP Towing made some $16,000 towing the cars but lacked permission to do so, reports The Orlando Sentinel.

According to the complaint, ASAP had a contract with (Westwood Town Center), but that it expired in May. The contract was not renewed until mid-June, after the Gay Days event.

In an email between Combs and the owner, Combs asked to back date the contract so the Gay Days event would be included and avoid “any technicalities,” the complaint says.

“This is further evidence that Jason Combs knew he had no contract in place and was not authorized to tow vehicles from Westwood Town Center,” the complaint said.

Authorities say ASAP also violated Florida law because the cars were towed more than 10 miles away.

Combs’ attorney said Saturday his client denied the charges. He said Combs had a contract to tow vehicles parked illegally. Investigators are also looking into collusion with cab companies who lined up to take stranded drivers to the tow lot.

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Chris Alexander-Manley, president of the Gay Days event, said he had not heard of the issue until it was released to the media on Friday. He said if Combs was towing cars illegally he should “be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

He stopped short of accusing Combs of a hate crime until more information came out.

Cpl. Rick Schmeltzer said the towing company also targeted vehicles the year before during Gay Days activities. During weekends with events other than Gay Days the company completed a “minuscule amount of tows,” he said.

Combs faces 29 counts of grand theft auto.

Associated Press contributed to this report.
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