Prosecutors say the owner of a wrecker service is attempting to hide his assets from Mobile County court officials.
Mobile County White Collar Crime Unit Prosecutor Clay Rossi told Lagniappe Wednesday Rapid Towing owner Michael Sellers, 45, of Irvington, has spent 39 hours on the phone in Mobile Metro Jail since his arrest on Dec. 11, 2021, and has been instructing individuals to conceal his and his business’ assets.
An emergency motion filed Jan. 7 explained the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office has been reviewing these phone calls. According to prosecutors, Sellers has been attempting to avoid detection of whom he is calling by placing calls to one individual who will then conference call other parties into the conversation.
Mobile Metro Jail Warden Trey Oliver told Lagniappe this was an unusually long time to spend on the phone, albeit expensive.
He said phones are all recorded lines and the amount of time inmates have access to telephones depends on their classification.
For instance, Oliver said Inmates on restrictions, in medical areas, on suicide watch, or protective custody have zero to very limited access to phones. Inmates in General Population may have four to eight hours per day in the day room, which is where they can access showers, phones and kiosks.
Oliver said if an inmate pays by the call, the rate is 25 cents-per-minute. If a family member purchases a calling card, it’s 21 cents-per-minute. At the lower rate, this meant Sellers spent at least $491.40 on phone calls in a month.
These “steady stream” of conversations involve Sellers directing others to move his assets and those of his towing business. During a call on Jan. 7, one day after being ordered to pay restitution to victims, Sellers explicitly noted actions against him by the Mobile DA’s office as the motivation for his plans to put assets in others’ names.
“This evidence overwhelmingly points to the conclusion that the defendants are threatening and/or about to remove, conceal, or dispose of property, which could be used for restitution compensation,” the order reads. The emergency order seeks a court-appointed “special master” or “receiver” to investigate and obtain where or if assets were moved.
Sellers is accused of “predatory towing” and was ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution on Jan. 6 to three victims for damage to their vehicles while they were in his custody. According to prosecutors, Sellers was forcing individuals to sign hold-harmless contracts in an attempt to avoid accountability, violating the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act. He was also recently fined $40,500 for violating court orders.
Sellers was rearrested on Dec. 11 for t domestic violence burglary, shooting into an occupied dwelling and five counts of domestic violence reckless endangerment, for shooting into a residence where his estranged wife was staying. Three young girls were in the house at the time.
An order issued by Mobile Circuit Court Judge Ben Brooks on Jan. 6 shows three individuals appeared at a Dec. 16 hearing to present and claim damages against Sellers and Rapid Towing. This included a Leroy Patterson, Anaka Patterson and Amber and Justin Sims.
Patterson said his 2004 Toyota Sequoia suffered a cracked windshield and brake damage. He also claimed lost wages while the vehicle was being repaired. He was awarded $878.85. Anaka Patterson transported Leroy to the impound lot and claimed she lost 10 hours of work. She was awarded $120.
Amber sims said her 2014 Hyundai Sante Fe suffered damage to its bumper and side door/window seal. She also lost four hours of work time. The court awarded her $1,408.26.
The order states this restitution was required within 60 days of the judgment.
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