“We’re going to be looking for the unethical people... taking advantage.”By Andrea Alvarez

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – New details are being released in what Polk County detectives call the second phase of an investigation on a Mulberry business.

“We’re going to be looking for the unethical people that are taking advantage of the hardworking poor people just trying to get along in life,” said Sheriff Grady Judd, Polk County Sheriff’s Office during a press conference Thursday.
Sheriff Judd told reporters illegal towing practices were being committed by the owners of Strapped Towing.

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“Yesterday was the next phase of an investigation by our Property Crimes Detectives when we arrested Elissa Denn,” he said. Back in May, owner of that business, Michael Denn, was arrested after police say a tow led to a deadly altercation.

“This guy and his team that was there had flashlights walking up underneath peoples’ carport to see what they could see and found this one without at tag on it and towed it away,” Judd told reporters. The following day, police say the owner of that vehicle, Juan Muriel, arrived at Strapped Towing to pay and that Michael Denn attempted to charge another fee, upsetting Muriel.

“Juan drives the vehicle that he arrives in and [charges toward] Michael Denn, swerves and hits Michael Denn’s brother, injuring him. Then, he spins the car around, jumps out of the vehicle. Michael Denn approaches him, shoots him and kills him.” Denn was taken into custody and police say an ongoing investigation revealed the company’s illegal towing practices.

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“The storage yard was more than ten miles away from the tow location. That is a violation of law,” explained Judd.

According to Florida statute 715, any county with more than 500,000 people requires towing companies to store vehicles within a 10 mile radius from the point of removal. Violation is a third degree felony. Investigators found this was done to at least 19 more vehicles.

“I don’t know how the people who take advantage of hardworking poor people trying to make ends meet, sleep at night. But they’re sleeping in the county jail at night,” said Judd. Elissa Denn was arrested Wednesday. Both owners are being charged with multiple felonies and the investigation is ongoing.

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“We haven’t found all of the victims yet. We want to talk to them because we want to bring more criminal charges,” said Judd. He also says the vehicle used to tow the victims’ vehicles has been seized and will be remarked to be used as a Polk County Sheriff’s Office vehicle to help save taxpayer money.