Two men who allegedly impersonated city workers as part of a predatory towing scheme were being released from custody without having to put up any cash following their initial court hearings on Saturday.
Jon Twist, 30, and Angel Camacho, 26, both of Brighton Park, were each charged with a felony count of tower solicitation. Twist was also charged with a misdemeanor for unlawfully possessing a police scanner, according to Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors.
At about 6:15 a.m. Friday, a commercial semitrailer was driving near the intersection of Racine and Pershing when the rig became wedged under a viaduct, authorities said.
After the driver called his company’s dispatch center and arranged for a tow, Twist and Camacho pulled up to the scene in a tow truck, prosecutors said. Both men were seen wearing clothing bearing the official seal of the city of Chicago.
The driver told Twist and Camacho he had already arranged for a tow, but they insisted on hooking the semi up to their truck. Additionally, the men claimed they were authorized to tow the semi and said they worked with the city “all the time,” prosecutors said.
When the other tow truck driver arrived, an argument broke out, prosecutors said. A short time later, officers showed up and arrested Twist and Camacho.
The officers soon learned that Twist and Camacho were not employed by the city or authorized to use the city seal, prosecutors said.
During Twist’s bail hearing, his defense attorney noted that he owns a towing company. Court records identify the company as TMT Towing.
Hours before the men appeared in court, Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Friday’s incident may be part of a larger criminal enterprise.
“In recent weeks, [Chicago police] have uncovered a predatory towing operation we believe may be orchestrated by gangs,” according to a tweet from Guglielmi, who warned drivers that an authorized tow truck “will never just show up” at the scene of a crash.
If you're involved in an accident, a tow truck will never just show up. Authorized city tow services will also present you with documentation of the request and you could always verify the legitimacy of a tow operator by calling #ChicagoPolice & @ChicagoOEMC— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) April 6, 2019
Guglielmi later told the Sun-Times that investigators were trying to determine whether similar incidents in the Chicago Lawn, Deering and Ogden police districts were part of the possible operation. He said investigators believe Friday’s incident was gang-related due to the suspects’ backgrounds and the similarities with the other cases.
While Guglielmi would not say which gang or gangs police believe Twist and Camacho are associated with, both men have criminal backgrounds and have spent time in prison.
Twist was sentenced to 7 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after being convicted of a 2006 aggravated battery where he sought a ransom, prosecutors said.
Camacho was convicted of possessing a stolen vehicle in 2015 and sentenced to 3 years in prison, according to prosecutors and court records. He was paroled in August.
During their separate hearings on Saturday, Associate Judge Sophia Atcherson granted both men $10,000 personal recognizance bonds, meaning they don’t have to post any money to be released from the Cook County Jail.
Camacho is scheduled to appear again in court on April 12. Twist’s next court date was set for April 15.
Contributing: Sam Kelly