SAN FRANCISCO — In a predawn sweep that stunned the Salinas Valley town of King City, the acting police chief, a former chief, other police employees and a towing company owner were arrested Tuesday, some on charges connected to a scheme to steal impounded cars belonging mostly to Latino immigrants, authorities said.
A police sergeant was allowed to keep one impounded vehicle for every 10 to 15 he steered to a towing company owned by the brother of the acting police chief, according to the criminal complaint.
Among the vehicles he allegedly kept: a Pontiac LeMans, a Ford Expedition and a Ford Explorer.
The synchronized 5:59 a.m. sweep by multiple agencies came six months into an investigation led by the Monterey County district attorney’s office and spurred by “ongoing complaints of corruption and other criminal acts within the King City Police Department,” Dist. Atty. Dean Flippo said in a statement.
Flippo told reporters at an afternoon news conference in Salinas that King City residents, many of whom are poor and cannot speak English, told him, “The police are taking our property. They are taking our cars. They take our money. And we can do nothing about that.”
Authorities said that while investigating those allegations, they stumbled across other alleged crimes. The probe is ongoing, Flippo said.
Those arrested in connection with the alleged vehicle scheme were: Acting Police Chief Bruce Miller; his brother Brian Miller, owner of Miller Tow; Sgt. Bobby Javier Carrillo; former Chief Dominic “Nick” Baldiviez, who retired in September; and Officer Mario Alonso Mottu Sr.
The charges include bribery, embezzlement and conspiracy.