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Saturday, July 24, 2010

CA Tow Truck Operator Gets 14 Years In Plea Deal

Here's an update in the long-running case of CA tow truck operator Vincent Cardinalli from the Hollister Free Lance:
In a move that took prosecutors by surprise, a tow truck operator who has spent three years in jail awaiting trial pleaded no contest to 99 felonies and one misdemeanor.

Vincent Cardinalli, a 67-year-old San Benito County resident, pleaded no contest to a litany of embezzlement, perjury, forgery and other charges the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office brought against him after uncovering a tow and sue scam Cardinalli ran with his two children and a son-in-law. He will likely serve 14 years in prison, said prosecutor Victor Chen, who just took over the massive case this week. He credited former prosecutor Dale Lohman and one of the scam's victims, Greg Adler, with the work leading up to the plea.

Without them, "he would clearly still be victimizing people," Chen said.

Chen met with Cardinalli's defense attorney this morning for a readiness hearing prior to his trial, which was scheduled to take place Aug. 16. At previous hearings, "every offer he floated to us was ridiculous," Chen said. "We certainly didn't expect him to plead today."

Chen said he expects a sentencing hearing to be scheduled later this year.

Earlier this year, Cardinalli's son, tow truck operator Paul Greer, 33, pleaded no contest to 59 felony counts, according to prosecutors. His charges included 26 counts of attempted grand theft, 14 counts of perjury, 13 counts of subornation of perjury, three counts of embezzlement and one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice, presentation of false evidence and burglary. Greer will receive eight years in prison, Lohman said earlier this year.

Cardinalli's daughter, Rosemary Ball, 35, also pleaded no contest to one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, one count of attempted grand theft and one count of perjury, according to the District Attorney's office. Her husband, Michael Ball, 39, pleaded no contest to one felony count of attempted grand theft. They will be sentenced to between four and six months of county jail and 150 days of electronic monitoring.

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