By TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER
March 23, 2013
WILKES-BARRE — Two months after telling a reporter he already had sent the car of an elderly woman at the heart of price-gouging complaints to a junkyard, city tower Leo Glodzik III on Saturday returned the vehicle to her.
City resident Natalie Aleo, 82, said Glodzik, of LAG Towing Inc., called her Friday night and offered to tow the car to her home at no charge, saying he was tired of all the negative press since allegations he attempted to charge her to recover the vehicle, which had been reported stolen.
The development came as a surprise to Aleo, given that Glodzik, in a Jan. 24 interview The Times Leader, said he already had taken the car to a junkyard to be salvaged.
Glodzik’s actions came two days after The Times Leader obtained information from the state Department of Transportation that no “salvage” title had been issued for Aleo’s vehicle. In an interview Wednesday, PennDOT officials said any junkyard that takes possession of a vehicle is required to obtain a salvage title. Those titles are typically issued within two days after they are requested.
The newspaper was continuing to look into the matter and had not contacted Glodzik as of Friday to question him about the lack of a salvage title, which indicated the vehicle had not been taken to a junkyard.
Contacted Saturday, Glodzik declined to comment when asked for an explanation of the discrepancy.
Aleo said Glodzik did not mention if he had towed the car, a 1993 Cutlass Ciera, from his garage or somewhere else.
“He called (Friday) night and said there was a piece in the paper and he’s tired of it,” she said, apparently referring to a letter to the editor from Wilkes-Barre resident Charlotte Raup regarding Aleo’s case that appeared in Thursday’s edition of The Times Leader. “He asked me if I wanted it back. I said if it will stop all the trouble, I’ll take it back.”
City council in January recommended Mayor Tom Leighton terminate Glodzik’s contract based on Aleo’s case and other complaints. Councilman Tony George, who has pressed the issue, has asked for updates, but no action has been taken yet.
Aleo’s case drew attention after allegations arose that Glodzik told her she would have to pay nearly $2,000 in towing and storage fees to recover the vehicle, despite a provision in the city’s towing contract that says the tower cannot charge victims of crime.
The car was stolen in Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 10 and recovered in Plymouth the next day. Due to an oversight by the Wilkes-Bare Police Department, she was never notified the car had been found until about Jan. 16, when Glodzik called her.
Glodzik repeatedly has rejected the claim that he told Aleo the fees were for storage. He contends he told her the engine was blown and that the figure he quoted was an estimate of the cost to fix the car. In an interview last month Aleo disputed those comments, saying the LAG employee she spoke with made it clear the fees were for storage and towing.
Aleo said she did not attempt to start the car Saturday because the vehicle had significant front-end damage that would have been too costly to repair.
Glodzik never mentioned the front-end damage in several interviews with The Times Leader. Aleo said Saturday she does recall an LAG employee did mention “something about the hood” when she first went to pick up the car in January. She did not know how bad the damage was until she saw the car Saturday.
A copy of the Plymouth Police report issued when the vehicle was found could not be obtained Saturday.
Aleo said Glodzik offered to tow the car somewhere for her to get a repair estimate, but she decided it would be too expensive and opted to junk it. Valenti’s Scrap Yard in Edwardsville picked up the vehicle Saturday and paid her $200, she said. A reporter located the vehicle at Valenti’s Saturday afternoon and confirmed it had front-end damage.
Aleo said she’s happy she at least got some money for the car. She remains upset that the person who stole it has not been found. “He would not see the light of day when I got done with him,” she said.