Sentencing delayed months for family that ran tow scam


A family of tow truck operators who recently pleaded no contest
to more than 100 felonies will wait until after the new year to
receive their sentences.
A family of tow truck operators who recently pleaded no contest to more than 100 felonies will wait until after the new year to receive their sentences.

The delay comes as the county’s probation department works to pin down just how much money the family owes their victims in terms of restitution, Deputy District Attorney Victor Chen said.

In July, the family’s patriarch, Vincent Cardinalli, 67, pleaded no contest to a litany of embezzlement, perjury, forgery and other charges the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office brought against him after uncovering a tow and sue scam he ran with his two children and a son-in-law. He will likely serve 14 years in prison, Chen said.

Earlier this year, Cardinalli’s son, tow truck operator Paul Greer, 33, pleaded no contest to 59 felony counts, according to prosecutors. His charges included 26 counts of attempted grand theft, 14 counts of perjury, 13 counts of subornation of perjury, three counts of embezzlement and one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice, presentation of false evidence and burglary. Greer will receive eight years in prison, prosecutors said earlier this year.

Cardinalli’s daughter, Rosemary Ball, 35, also pleaded no contest to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of attempted grand theft and one count of perjury, according to the District Attorney’s office. Her husband, Michael Ball, 39, pleaded no contest to one felony count of attempted grand theft. They will be sentenced to between four and six months of county jail and 150 days of electronic monitoring, respectively.

According to prosecutors, the family’s scam involved hundreds of fraudulent lawsuits and spanned almost a decade, targeting unwitting motorists in San Benito and Santa Clara counties. Cardinalli and Greer brought an avalanche of lawsuits against motorists for towing, storage and lien sale fees on vehicles the motorists never owned, or sold years before the cars were towed, according to court documents. When defendants tried to fight back, father and son often zeroed in on technicalities and advanced frivolous arguments in small claims court, according to witnesses testimony at the preliminary hearing.

In addition, the defendants often never knew they were being sued. With the help of process server Jeffrey Horan, who falsified proofs of service for use by the tow truck operators in court, the family misled judges into thinking the people they sued had been notified of the lawsuits against them when they had not, prosecutors said. Horan pleaded no contest in June 2008 to conspiracy and six counts of perjury for his role in the scheme.

Cardinalli is currently being held in custody at the Santa Clara County Main Jail. His co-defendants are out of custody.

The family will be sentenced 9 a.m. Jan. 7 in Department 32 at the Hall of Justice in San Jose.

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