Crime

Tow company owner's case waived to grand jury

The case against a Lexington towing company owner accused of overcharging customers from places where he did not have authority has been waived to the grand jury, court records show.

George Michael Winchester, owner of Winchester Towing, has been charged with six counts of theft by deception — three felonies and three misdemeanors — for allegedly overcharging customers. He is also accused of violating 36 local ordinances stemming from accusations of towing cars from public areas and failing to keep adequate business records.

Jerry Anderson, Winchester's lawyer, said he expects an indictment within 40 to 60 days. However, he said he is optimistic about presenting Winchester's case to a jury.

"There is nothing to these charges. We have nothing to hide, so we don't give up anything if we testify," Anderson said.

Anderson said he doesn't think the three felony charges will hold up in court. Felony theft by deception charges must be in amounts greater than $500, but no individual has said they were overcharged by that much, he said. Anderson said the charges were a result of police investigators "aggregating," or combining several misdemeanor charges into one felony charge.

Sherelle Roberts, spokeswoman for Lexington police, said Friday she couldn't immediately comment on whether the felony charges had been aggregated, but that the police department has been conscious of what it is allowed to do by law when filing charges against Winchester.

"We are being very careful in the handling of this case because it's a matter of public trust, and that's what we do," she said.

Anderson said he doesn't think many of the search warrants will be found to be valid.

"The police can come in with just about anything and get a search warrant. These are just bogus search warrant affidavits," he said.

Roberts said the investigation into Winchester Towing came from dozens of overcharging complaints from customers. She said if any more complaints come in, they could be used as evidence in the trial, but no additional charges are expected.

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