• Methuen towing company faces complaints, lawsuit, but not criminal charges

    By: Stephanie Coueignoux

    Updated:

    Valley Towing has been towing and storing cars in Methuen for decades and has city contracts with both Methuen and Lawrence.

    The owner of Valley Towing- Ronald Parrino, is also the chairman for Methuen's licensing board. 

    In the last several months, at least ten people have come forward- claiming the company is abusing that standing in the community.

    One of those individuals is David Lee. He showed Boston 25 News reporter Stephanie Coueignoux his 2001 Chevy Silverado: the dashboard was stripped, windows were smashed, and parts of the wheels were removed.

    Lee told Boston 25 News, "This truck is worth nothing to me or anybody else."

    Lee last saw his truck in working condition several weeks earlier, parked next to a fence on the private property he manages.  Valley Towing is next door. 

    Lee says one morning in May, his truck was gone. 

    Boston 25 News obtained the Methuen Police report.  The owner of Valley Towing, Ronald Parrino, told police his company towed the truck. Valley Towing never notified police, which they're required to do under state and city regulations.

    According the report, Parrino told police people had been using the truck to jump the fence and take items from their cars.

    He said he tried to reach out to the owner several times.  Lee denies that.

    No charges were filed.

    Lee went back to Methuen Police, who requested a magistrate's hearing, but the clerk dismissed the case.

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    Lee says Parrino offered to pay for the damage, but the offer was far below what the truck was appraised for.

    Criminal defense attorney Joseph Keegan reviewed Lee’s case, and told Boston 25 News, “I don't know how many laws were violated there but there could be dozens- literally. I'm talking felonies. Towing in Massachusetts is a heavily regulated industry and for good reason."

    Chris Nesbitt is suing Ronald Parrino, the city of Methuen, and police Chief Joseph Solomon among others. 

    Nesbitt told Boston 25 News, "I believe they are wrong and they are criminally breaking laws. I'm not afraid and I'm going to call it what it is."

    He claims Valley Towing towed his car following an accident and then sold it to a salvage yard without his knowledge. "I'm alleging this is a criminal racketeering enterprise," Nesbitt said.

    Boston 25 news reporter Stephanie Coueignoux went to Valley Towing for Ronald Parrino's side of the story.

    Parrino's attorney told her his client appreciated the request but they wouldn't be commenting.

    Methuen police Chief Joseph Solomon did agree to speak with Boston 25 News, saying he thought it was important to be open.

    Chief Solomon said, while he can't comment on the pending lawsuit, he stands behind how his department has handled other complaints against Valley Towing, including David Lee's case.

    "I would say there was a procedural error there," Solomon explained. "If there was a criminal wrong doing, I'm pretty sure the city would immediately suspend the contract and then look at voiding it but in this case, we are not seeing that at all." 

    Solomon did say the department is now reviewing its towing procedures.

    The city of Lawrence also has a contract with Valley Towing. Boston 25 News has confirmed Lawrence police are now investigating the company for "irregularities" in its towing practices. Last month, the city suspended the company for one week.

    Boston 25 News has asked the city if Ronald Parrino's position as chairman of the licensing board creates a conflict of interest with Valley Towing's city contract. So far, they have not responded to that inquiry. 

    We also contacted the attorney general's office and the state's ethics commission. 

    The attorney general's office told Boston 25 News, since 2006, they have received 10 complaints about Valley Towing.  

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