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UPDATE: Embattled Tow Company Seeking License to Work for Toms River

APK Towing company one of five vying for licenses in the township

The towing company once accused of wrongfully removing cars from private property in Seaside Heights following Superstorm Sandy is seeking to win a license to tow for Toms River. 

APK Towing and Auto Repair, based in Toms River, was accused of taking cars from private property in Seaside Heights and price gouging following the October 2012 storm. While not held at fault, a settlement reached in January with the state Division of Consumer affairs ordered those who had their vehicles towed by APK to be reimbursed. 

In addition to APK, Accurate Towing, Priced-Rite Towing, Freedom Towing and Recovery, and Grone's Wrecker and Recovery Service have also applied for township tow licenses, according to Anthony Merlino, assistant township attorney in Toms River. 

"Eligibility is conditioned on a number of criteria, many of which relate to equipment standards," Merlino said in an email to Patch. The township code for towing licenses, updated in September of 2012, "now provides that fraudulent or illegal activity of any kind is a ground for rejection. All of these factors were taken into account in the review of the five applications."

The attorney declined to indicate the status of the applications before they are put to a vote by the Township Council on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. in town hall. 

"However, I can state that APK's actions following Hurricane Sandy weighed heavily in the ultimate decision," Merlino said.

An attorney for APK said in a statement Friday afternoon that his clients have proven they are "qualified" for the job, having passed four separate inspections to obtain the bid since applying in February 2012.

"My clients are confident that if their experience, qualifications and proven willingness to meet the township’s standards are reviewed in a fair manner by the Township Council, they will obtain a township license for towing along with any and all other qualified companies that have submitted a bid," said Michael Botton, the attorney representing APK owners Matthew Zucaro and Jason McGee.

Botton has said that his clients did nothing wrong and were following instructions from a Seaside Heights official when Sandy hit. 

"On the date of the hurricane, my clients were instructed, specifically by James Samarelli, Coordinator of the Office of Emergency Management, to remove every vehicle off of the island, no matter where it was, and to bill the owner for the service," 

In January, a settlement was reached between APK and the state Division of Consumer Affairs, under which the owners of the about 50 unclaimed vehicles and watercraft in APK's possession were given 21 days to claim their items before they are sold by the state for scrap. The proceeds from those sales will be used to reimburse the vehicle owners who had paid APK to retrieve their property prior a November 2012 agreement.

That initial agreement allowed for the return of more than 70 vehicles and watercraft to their registered owners at no charge. But some had already paid APK "significant sums" to reclaim their property before the agreement between APK and the state was reached, according to the Division of Consumer Affairs. The agency said that is likely the unclaimed items were left by owners because they were damaged beyond repair and were covered by the owners' insurance.

Also under the settlement, APK was assessed $15,669 for the state’s investigative costs, a fee that is suspended and will be vacated after one year, but will become payable if APK fails to comply with the settlement terms, officials have said. 

According to Botton, Seaside Heights denied the emergency tow order was issued to his clients after residents began complaining of price gouging. Further, he said that all pricing was fair and conformed with the figures in the borough's tow ordinance.

Samarelli, who has since resigned his post for personal reasons, denied giving the order to tow cars from private property, according to an Asbury Park Press report.

APK has filed a $2.6 million Notice of Claim against Seaside Heights, which indicates that a lawsuit may be filed against the borough, but "no civil action of any kind has been filed at this time," Botton said. The company claims that, by releasing the vehicles it towed as part of the state settlement, Seaside Heights agreed to pay for the work but has not.

"My clients are hopeful to resolve the matter with the Borough of Seaside Heights in an effort to restore their long-standing, working relationship," Botton said.

Michelle V February 22, 2013 at 09:11 PM
APK Was patrolling Ortley in the summer pulling cars out of lots illegally. I personally had a run in with the dirtbag. they do not deserve another chance...there are hundreds of tow companies to choose from...just not all have the politicians on the payroll. To Argo, they towed cars out of people's driveways....not just cars on the street. A thief is a thief
Mark February 22, 2013 at 09:26 PM
APK towed vehicles from peoples driveway and backyards. They were told to only tow vehicles that were parked in the streets. They even towed a boat sitting on a trailer in the owners yard. They should be grateful for the light sentence they got, keep their mouth shut and lay low for awhile.
Don February 22, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Argo do u work for Apk.. Cars takin out of yards over in the island.. Exclusive rights over there with 3 other large better equipped an more responsible company's over the bridge..the other companies stayed out of it due to an absence of a written contract or request.. I'm a first responder know the facts.. Where's apks written contract or written authority..... THERE IS NONE
Don February 22, 2013 at 09:32 PM
An yes it was easy except for a select few... They were back an forth ever 5 mins.. You must of been oblivious
Don February 22, 2013 at 09:36 PM
Also I didn't seek reimbursement.. That wasn't enough for my aggravation an me almost fighting... It was my daughters car an I had to pay for it.... So I retained an attorney an am going for the throat
Finally!!! February 22, 2013 at 10:35 PM
Finally the truth is told!!! You people can not even read between the lines! You have Samerelli who just "resigned"? Heat was on him bc he lied! Truth be told!!! Finally. All those crooked politicians for once have ppl standing up for what was right! Yes they towed the cars! Yes they were ordered! If you people removed ur vehicles like normal people do there would be no story here to write! They worked day and night like someone else mentioned And got screwed! You people all jumped on the bandwagon and literally judged before knowing the truth and details! KUDOS TO APK for going against those crooked politicians in Seaside who turn their heads when the heat was on! Looking to blame the little guy got you this time! I love how everyone blamed APK blame Samerelli. He's the main man. And Boyd defending him! His hand was in the cookie jar somewhere!!!! Dominoes!!!
ortleysmellslikebunker February 22, 2013 at 10:39 PM
I've been at the apk station when there was a sketchy towing incident, and i know the practices of samarelli.they are both scumbags.samarelli thinks he runs everything, cocky ass.I'd like to see him up in irvington paid fire company Acting like he does.all white trah losers
ortleysmellslikebunker February 22, 2013 at 10:44 PM
Apk mechanics said they had no Affiliation with apk towing when a customer came in about a towed truck.it was there for days.mechanic guys offered to pay apk her balance and give her 500$ and she could walk away.he work at the shop and he was part of apk.poor women lost her car.scumbags
Isheet Mipants February 22, 2013 at 10:59 PM
Argo must be the "A" in APK...LOL
ed crowley February 23, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Who authorized them to go into Seaside Heights?. Why were they allowed thru the police check points? Why did the police not charge them with theft? Why no fines for their actions? When will the reporter get answers to these questions? I am sure these questions have been asked.
barbara February 23, 2013 at 12:53 AM
Just dont understand \how they can still be in business, as they ripped off so many people. mabe he, the owner is a relative of someone in the county omg, makes me sick.o tired of all these polotocal connections in this county.........
Ken February 23, 2013 at 01:56 AM
There is no way Toms River should license them. If they do then you know there is some kkind of kick back
Laci February 23, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Maybe next APK will try and sue the Patch and it's posters for all the negative publicity. Seems this company spends alot of money paying lawyers to do their kicking and screaming. Wonder why Botton and not Secare was their attorney of chose in this case?. Stick a fork in them, there done........
john doe February 23, 2013 at 03:14 AM
because in reality...good one.
Alaina February 23, 2013 at 05:30 AM
Priced Rite Towing is the one to go with. Honest and dependable. APK should have their operating license revoked
Irina February 23, 2013 at 10:01 AM
@Rob.....well said.
Irina February 23, 2013 at 10:06 AM
@Argo You mean this little crook....I know a whole town and then some who know they are scum. I being one of them. I heard from very reliable sources they have been dropped from the TR bid.
Finally!!! February 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM
@Ed-all good questions! Answer-SAMURELLI AUTHORIZED IT!!!! He was in charge of this fiasco! He GAVE THE ORDERS! Boyd praising what a great job he did!!! What a joke! I wish APK could sue all you slanderers really! It's a shame they are being blamed for this! Hard working guys who busted their butts getting your vehicles out of there. I guess no one knew Sandy was coming!!! Do your contractors want to be paid for post Sandy or do they say "oh your a victim of the storm so I'll do it for free". Just like those tow drivers claiming they would tow your cars for free after the impound. The guy tried charging people ! Joke. Everyone loves to yap not knowing the TRUTH and the real deal! Complaining of cars being towed off property properties? Ask MR SAMURELLI WHY HE ORDERED IT! Not APK! That's who needs to answer questions! Why such a quick resignation? Sounds fishy to me!
Irina February 23, 2013 at 11:23 AM
@Finally....."Finally the truth is told!!! " NOT by you. They should've hung over this. The only reason they didn't is because Consumer Affairs is a lazy joke. Thre always settle because it easier. PEOPLE call the purchasing departmeny at town hall 7323-341-1000 and let them know how you feel. All comments make a difference.
Irina February 23, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Botton should always keep in mind when he defends a repulsive criminal against a victim....That one day the victim will find something about him on the www and share it with all.....DID YOU NOT THINK I'D FIND THIS???? http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7YXQF7/$file/Complaint.121709.pdf
Richard J. Thomas February 23, 2013 at 12:01 PM
These crooks are not needed here. Let them go get a towing contract in Newark where they belong.
Don February 23, 2013 at 12:39 PM
Like I said Argo answer me.. Where is the written contract? You know signed by town council, oem, police, mayor,Santa clause, Easter bunny, pope?! There is none...they should have known better...
grace February 23, 2013 at 03:34 PM
like to see you people do the job mr samarelli did..what ever you feel about him he saved lives during that storm..he took charge and got things done..apk over stepped their bounds accept responsibility apk and get over it
Walter Cunningham February 23, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Samarelli resigned because his house got destroyed you creep.
Walter Cunningham February 23, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Why would they hire a company that is suing it's former employer? That would be like hiring someone for a job and them telling you "I might need a few weeks off after I start to attend the harassment trial against my former employer." Technically not legal but who would hire someone who sues their employer? Not worth the headache.
ed crowley February 26, 2013 at 12:51 AM
Why did the police let them cross the bridge? Why did the police on the island allow them to tow? Where is the story police watch while cars stolen? Why have they not been charged ? Either the police or the towing company.
ed crowley February 26, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Do you think they were asked to tow and over stepped the request or that they were not asked and were acting on their own.
ed crowley February 26, 2013 at 01:07 AM
I have spoken has made a good question is this the same lawyer that is being accused by the Attorney General of Florida. Check out his link
Don February 26, 2013 at 03:19 AM
Need not worry no license for Apk!
mjmjr March 06, 2013 at 03:12 AM
this got to be a joke,NO LICENSE

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