UPDATE: Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Shelby County District Attorney’s off said the cases against the A1’s Towing employees were dismissed because they were in General Sessions court, and they cannot subpoena the out-of-state victims even though they have been cooperative. The DA’s office said it will continue pursuing the cases and expects them to go to criminal court. WREG was told they would be sending the cases to a grand jury.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Shelby County District Attorney’s Office has dropped criminal charges against at least four A1’s Towing & Hauling employees arrested in six different incidents involving the towing of 18-wheelers.
In five of the cases, the A1’s tow truck drivers were charged with carjacking after police said they took the big rigs by force. In another case, an A1’s employee was charged with aggravated assault.
We contacted District Attorney Steve Mulroy’s office to find out why all the cases were dismissed on September 21 but have not received a reply.
On August 29, two days after A1’s driver, Rufus Newson, and S-Line Truck Parking employee, Gary Rhodes, were arrested for illegally towing a tractor-trailer from a truck stop in Southeast Memphis, a Chancery Court judge ordered the charges against the men be dropped and expunged from their records.
Chancellor Melanie Taylor-Jefferson said the Memphis Police Department violated a previous court order prohibiting officers from going on private properties and enforcing rules.
The arrest was cleared for Rhodes, but Newson still faces a charge of theft of property, assault, and driving with a canceled or revoked license. He has a preliminary hearing set for Thursday.
Jeff Partlow, a driver with Western Express, said his semi-truck was illegally booted and towed from a gas station at South Mendenhall and Shelby Drive on August 30, and there was nothing police could do to stop it.
Partlow said he had just pulled into the Shell station to let his trainee use the bathroom, and his foot was still on the brake when an A1’s truck pulled on the lot and booted his tractor-trailer.
Partlow said he paid a $276 fee to have the boot removed, but the A1’s employees told him he didn’t do it fast enough and they were towing his truck. He said it all happened in front of the officers.
His company was forced to pay $4,375 to get the truck back.
“There were two officers that came out, and then the sergeant came out, and then the colonel came out. The colonel was talking to me and told me that their hands were tied because they had just had an injunction placed against them,” Partlow said. “The colonel told me if it turned criminal if he put his hands on me or damaged to the truck to call him back, and they could get involved.”
The City of Memphis Permits Office told WREG it was investigating A1’s Towing & Hauling, also known as A1’s Xclusive Auto, after receiving nearly a dozen complaints from truck drivers from around the country.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Division of Consumer Affairs has also received several consumer complaints against A1’s towing since 2022.
Last week, the owner of a truck stop in Fayette County got an injunction of his own to boot A1’s Towing and S-Line from his property.
Abed Amrokbeer said he had signed a contract with S-Line Truck Parking to provide security and collect small parking fees but said S-Line and A1’s began illegally booting and towing 18-wheelers, scaring away truck drivers.
Partlow said A1’s towed three West Express Trucks in one day. He said it appears to be open season on truck drivers, and it will likely get to the point where truckers can no longer afford to come through Memphis or the Mid-South.
“We have been doing it awhile. We are good at it. That’s what the boot guy told me. He said we’ve got good lawyers. He said the city is scared of us,” Partlow said.
According to the city’s booting ordinance, no vehicle with a boot may be towed unless the owner of the vehicle fails to contact the booting company within 24 hours, and the maximum fee for a boot removal is $50.
Partlow said A1’s Towing & Hauling temporarily disabled his truck. He said the money his company had to pay A1’s would be coming out of his paychecks.
“I’ve got a wife, and we have two kids and a baby on the way, and the $4,375 is coming out of each one of my checks until it’s all paid,” he said.
If you believe you have been booted or towed illegally, you are urged to contact the City Of Memphis Permits Office at 901-636-6711.