Booting company owners accused of defrauding city of Miami out of $700,000
Company accused of underreporting amount of booted vehicles
MIAMI – The owners of a South Florida booting company are facing felony charges for allegedly stealing money from the city of Miami by underreporting the amount of vehicles they were booting.
Local 10 News investigative reporter Amy Viteri has been looking into the company for more than a year.
"I think it's unfair because that's an easy way to get money from people," Max Bermudez, whose vehicle was booted by the company, said.
Premier Booting Services is also accused of booting vehicles even when the owners had paid to park.
Viteri began looking into the company in 2016. She was with Miami police as they investigated and watched as company employees booted several vehicles within just a few hours, including the car of an elderly woman parked in a disabled spot.
"It's a lot of people -- not good and not respecting the people and the old lady, so that's crazy," one woman said.
But tactics aside, the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office said Premier systematically altered records and withheld money from the city by underreporting the amount of cars it booted.
"The allegation is that they kept over $700,000 that the city of Miami was entitled to," State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said.
For each boot, Premier owed the city of Miami a $25 administration fee -- money Fernandez Rundle said should have been working for the taxpayers.
But Premier allegedly reported just 25 percent of its boots.
"They took advantage of the city of Miami, took advantage of the customers whose cars were booted and they really abused our community as a whole," Fernandez Rundle said.
According to the arrest warrant, Premier's owner, Andrew Beachler, solicited an employee to destroy evidence of his scheme.
Beachler and his wife, Gabriela Catalgirona, are facing several charges, including organized scheme to defraud and conspiracy.
"I just feel like it's really, really unfair for them to charge this much and for them to be the way they are," Bermudez said.
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