A Virginia Beach towing company faces federal charges of illegally auctioning vehicles that belonged to Navy SEALs. According to the Justice Department, the tow truck operator violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by selling at least seven vehicles without first obtaining a court order. Two of the vehicles belonged to SEALs who were deployed. One was towed from a military base, and contained a duffel bag filled with military uniforms, the Justice Department contends.
By law, towing companies must determine if vehicles they have towed belong to service members. The complaint alleges the towing company made no such effort, and either never looked for or totally ignored indications that the vehicles in question belonged to service members. The Justice Department is seeking a civil penalty, damages for the SEALs who lost their vehicles, and a court order barring the company from auctioning off service members’ cars in the future.
“The flagrant disregard of a law designed to protect the rights of those in military service will not be tolerated,” said Kristen Clarke, the Justice Department assistant attorney general in the civil rights division. “We must put an end to unlawful business practices that bring harm and distress to those selflessly serving in our armed forces.”
The case is now pending before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.