Tow-scheme convict sues two officers

Vincent Cardinalli, 67

A San Benito man sentenced to 14 years in prison last month for
scamming motorists out of thousands of dollars with a tow-and-sue
scheme has filed a lawsuit against two law enforcement officers,
according to the Victor Chen, Santa Clara County deputy district
attorney.
A San Benito man sentenced to 14 years in prison last month for scamming motorists out of thousands of dollars with a tow-and-sue scheme has filed a lawsuit against two law enforcement officers, according to the Victor Chen, Santa Clara County deputy district attorney.

Vincent Cardinalli, 67, filed a small claims court lawsuit Feb. 17 against two corrections officers at the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose, where Cardinalli is awaiting transport to prison. The case, filed under the name “V. Cardinalli Vs Gaydea, et al,” is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 11, according to the Santa Clara County Superior Court. Court case information also lists a “D. Torres” as the second defendant.

In August 2007, Cardinalli was declared a vexatious litigant, meaning he could not file any lawsuits without prior approval from a presiding judge. On Dec. 7, Judge James Kleinberg voided that ruling, stating the vexatious litigant statute did not apply to any small claims actions taken by Cardinalli.

Chen, who prosecuted Cardinalli, said he was shocked to hear Cardinalli’s vexatious litigant tag had been lifted and that he was suing two officers.

“I’m pretty sure its frivolous,” Chen said. “If that’s the case, we may be filing additional charges.”

According to prosecutors, tow companies owned by Cardinalli and his son, Paul Greer, preyed on vehicle owners, including those who spoke little English, and filed hundreds of fraudulent lawsuits against motorists in Santa Clara and San Benito counties for storage, towing and lien sales fees on vehicles drivers did not own, according to court documents.

Greer, 33, was sentenced to eight years for his role in the scam. Greg Adler, an attorney for auto salvage company Copart, brought the family’s scam into light. On Wednesday, Adler said it wasn’t uncommon for prisoners to sue officers, but he worried allowing Cardinalli to file lawsuits would open the door to additional, fraudulent cases.

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