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October 9, 2013

Cop guilty in towing kickback scheme


An FBI analyst also provided a year-to-year comparison of tows ordered by Lopez during the time frame covered by the indictments.

In Janary 2011, Lopez ordered 30 tows during M & W’s tow week, according to the analysis.

Also, in February 2010, Lopez ordered three tows during M & W’s tow week. A year later, during the same respective tow week, he called for 48 M & W tows, according to the FBI calculations.

Prosecutor William Bloomer, in his closing argument yesterday, said this case was about a police officer sworn to uphold the law who exploited the public’s trust for personal gain. Calixto, Colon and Carlos Ortiz, an M & W tow truck driver, “are the people he chose to rope into this conspiracy,” he said.

They all considered Lopez their friend, said Bloomer, noting Colon broke into tears as she testified against him. When Calixto, Colon and Ortiz were on the stand “they couldn’t bring themselves to look at the defendant,” Bloomer said.

Calixto, Bloomer emphasized to jurors, said that he was afraid not to go along with Lopez’s plan, fearing he’d lose business.

“He was afraid if he didn’t go along with the defendant’s proposal, he’d be shut off,” Bloomer said. “There was an understanding here. Lopez generated a significant amount of tows for M & W, and in exchange he’d get stuff.”

Bloomer also noted Calixto and Colon did lie to federal agents during the investigation and later cooperated, telling the truth. But he said neither of them benefitted from any of the lies. Instead it was “their good friend P.J. Lopez” who did.

“They were trying to protect him,” he said.

Cain told jurors the burden of proof fell on prosecutors and they failed. “This case rises or falls on the credibility of Wilson Calixto, Mayra Colon and Carlos Ortiz,” Cain said. Ortiz was an M & W tow truck driver who also testified against Lopez.

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