Tow companies covet a spot on a city's police tow rotation list. The customers are always there. When a car is in an accident, a driver arrested, or registration has lapsed, it's often the police who call the tow truck. Cities are supposed to vet the companies that apply for the list for good business practices. That doesn't always happen.
Later this month the El Cajon City Council will hold a hearing to decide if a tow company owner with a criminal background will be granted a special operations license to tow for the police. The city received Nashwan Habib's application to operate a police department towing business in June. Two months later, city manager Graham Mitchell denied it. The past misdeeds, which include two felonies and auto-related crimes to name a few, are an open secret. Why would his application, let alone the appeal he has filed, have any chance of succeeding? Maybe because they have before.
Or maybe not this time. The history of Habib's business practices were detailed in news stories in 2015 — which Mitchell came across, causing him to deny the application. A records search by Lt. Jason Taub of the El Cajon Police Department verified the article's claims.
Mitchell based the denial on two provisions of the city's eligibility qualifications for the job. To be included on the police tow list, a company "must demonstrate trustworthiness and capacity to deal fairly and effectively with the City and the public" and "shall strictly conform in all aspects to local, state and federal law(s)."
If the felonies in Michigan, one for assault, the other for destroying a car, weren't enough, Habib had continued to tangle with the law in San Diego where he moved in 2002, and has established a towing empire bolstered by lucrative contracts with local city governments.From campaign to code violations, even more assault allegations and lawsuits, nothing has stopped the "tow king."
A staff report says the article made references to Habib and Angelo's Towing that included "contacts or involvement with persons operating illegal marijuana dispensaries in East County, and Mr. Habib's arrests and convictions in Michigan that were not disclosed. Mr. Habib answered 'none' on the line on the SOL application requesting past criminal records of all financially interested persons." The appeals process before the City Council will include witnesses and evidence on each side, and the city must prove the grounds for the denial.