The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has submitted the first part of its fraud investigation into Cactus Towing to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
More than a year ago, the sheriff’s office began investigating whether the Mesa-based towing company had defrauded customers and insurance companies.
The investigation is complex and ongoing, said Lt. Paul Chagolla, sheriff’s office spokesman. He declined to provide details.
“We have to pay attention to the case’s complexities,” he said. “There’s no time frame that you can place on something like that.”
Officials at the attorney general’s office were tightlipped about the progress of the probe, which first gained public attention in March 2005, after a raid of the towing company’s office.
They refused to say whether the sheriff’s office is recommending that charges be brought.
They also refused to say why the attorney general is handling the case, as opposed to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Andrea Esquer, spokeswoman for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, confirmed that state prosecutors have received some investi- gative material from the sheriff’s office. But more might be on the way, she said.
“The attorney general’s office has received most of the case file,’’ Esquer said. “I don’t know that they’ve sent the whole thing.”
The sheriff has been investigating allegations that the towing company gouged its customers, insurance company and body shops by administering illegal charges. The company, which was sold over the summer, had contracts in Mesa, Chandler and Scottsdale.
Cactus Towing’s former owner, Lee Watkins, has repeatedly claimed that the company was the target of a politically motivated investigation. Watkins supported a 2004 opponent of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio has denied that politics played a role in the investigation.