CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte tow truck driver is operating his business even though he told WBTV he does not have a valid driver license or a commercial driver license.
WBTV started investigating David Satterfield and his company Automobile Recovery and Parking Enforcement after a tip to the WBTV Investigates line.
The story starts in Franklin County Georgia. That’s where Frank Poole called us from after his father’s 1999 Ford Super Duty truck was stolen while he was having lunch.
"And drove it to Charlotte, North Carolina and abandoned it," Poole said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police called and said the truck was located, reported and towed by a company called Automobile Recovery and Parking Enforcement and owner David Satterfield. If Poole wanted the truck back he would have to call him.
"I called up there and he told us the tow fee was $1,500 and that it would be $75 every additional day it was left which sounded just outrageous to me," Poole said.
In 2014 the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that local government agencies couldn't cap how much towing companies charge for services.
We took to Sky 3 to see if we could get eyes on the stolen truck. Sure enough we found it in Satterfield's lot.
WBTV started looking into Satterfield's record in the court system and found numerous lawsuits and criminal convictions. Satterfield has been convicted of more than a dozen felonies and 15 traffic infractions ranging from DWI 3 to Driving With License Revoked.
"It was surprising that a professional tow truck would operate in this manner," attorney Joe Culik said.
Culik represents Mark Pfeister, a truck driver from Tennessee who sued Satterfield after two of his trucks were towed from a Charlotte Walmart parking lot.
Pfesiter says he arrived at the Walmart after 1 AM and was waiting for it to open so he could get allergy medicine.
"He woke up to Mr. David Satterifeld from the DARTS towing company (Satterfield operated under the name Dependable Automobile Recovery and Towing Services up until May 2018) banging on his windows yelling at him and apparently his truck had been booted without his knowledge," Culik said.
Pfeister says satterfield offered him a deal.
"Mr. Pfeister's truck was basically held hostage with the threat that if he didn't pay $3,000 immediately it would be towed and he would have to pay even more to get it back," Culik said.
Pfeister sued Satterfield after making numerous payments but still not getting his trucks back.
A magistrate found that Pfeister had a legitimate claim that Satterfield violated North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Charlotte towing ordinances since Satterfield’s truck was unmarked and his employee wasn’t wearing a uniform.
After the judgement Pfeister and Satterfield reached a settlement.
Satterfield has been sued two other times after towing a vehicle in Mecklenburg County. Both times a magistrate found he violated the local towing ordinance.
Satterfield denied WBTV's request for an on-camera interview and said if "I'm doing something wrong take me to court."
“Until he’s either locked up or loses his commercial driver license, he can keep going,” Culik said.
But Satterfield told WBTV he doesn’t have a CDL. He said “No I don’t have a commercial driver license. I don’t drive. That’s why I have people on payroll.”
But numerous people WBTV spoke with who are involved in legal actions involving Satterfield say they saw him driving.
Tomorrow at 6 PM WBTV investigates Satterfield’s criminal background and local and state towing laws.