Three family members have pleaded no contest in a Northern California car-towing scam in which authorities say they towed hundreds of cars, sold them without telling the owners, then sued them for the towing and storage fees.
Paul Greer, 33, owner of the now-defunct B&C Towing, entered his plea Friday to 59 felony counts, including grand theft, perjury and embezzlement.
B&C Towing, whose trucks operated in Gilroy, Hollister and Clovis, would successfully sue car owners in small claims court because the company would provide false documentation that it notified the owners before they sold their vehicles, according to Santa Clara County prosecutors, who said the scam lasted nearly a decade.
"They were basically running a lawsuit mill," Deputy District Attorney Dale Lohman said. "It was a very complicated and elaborate fraud."
Under terms of the plea deal, Greer will be sentenced to eight years in prison.
His sister, Rosemary Ball, also agreed to plead no contest Friday to obstruction of justice, attempted grand theft and perjury, and faces a sentence of four to six months in jail. Her husband, Michael Ball, pleaded no contest to attempted grand theft and faces 150 days of electronic monitoring.
Greer's father, Vincent Cardinalli, 67, is the only family member still headed for trial. He faces 99 felony counts in the case when the trial begins Aug. 16. If convicted, Cardinalli faces 186 years in prison.
Greer's attorney, Eben Kurtzman, was not available for comment, and a message left at Cardinalli's home was not returned.
Prosecutors said Greer sometimes sued people who weren't even the car owners but had a name similar to the owner. He also sometimes failed to give notice of the lawsuits to win quick default judgments against the defendants, they said.
Greer persuaded at least three process servers to falsify court documents that would inflate the amount of his claims, according to prosecutors. One of them, Jeffrey Horan, pleaded no contest in June 2008 to conspiracy and perjury.