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AAA suspends Pat's towing contract.

Byline: Linda Bock

WORCESTER -- A day after the owner of Pat's Towing & Service Center was arraigned on witness intimidation charges in Central District Court, the Shrewsbury Street towing business is in danger of losing lucrative contracts with the city and AAA Southern New England.

The company has already lost its contract with the Massachusetts State Police.

After learning of the charges leveled against 70-year-old owner Patsy Santa Maria Sr., AAA Southern New England immediately placed Pat's Towing & Service Center on an inactive status pending further review, according to Lloyd P. Albert, senior vice president, Public Government Affairs & New Business Development.

"The tower, who has had a relationship with AAA for over 20 years, provides roadside assistance to AAA members in the Worcester-Shrewsbury area,'' Mr. Albert wrote in an email. "We anticipate that a permanent decision regarding AAA's contract with Pat's Towing will be made within the next several days.''

Patsy Santa Maria Sr. of 25 Blue Bell Road was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Central District Court on charges of intimidation of a witness, attempting to suborn perjury and two counts of conspiracy.

Pat's Service Center's contract with AAA was suspended for several months after a bill collector was beaten at the center in 2012, but was restored in August 2012.

Massachusetts State Police stopped using Pat's Service Center for towing services in 2012, citing the indictments of several employees for assault, kidnapping and civil rights violations. State police said Pat's was removed from the towing lists for the Worcester area Feb. 17, one day after several employees, including the owner's two sons, were arraigned in Worcester Superior Court for alleged beatings.

Patsy Santa Maria Sr., owner of Pat's Service Station, lodged an appeal with the state police on June 28, 2013, but it was denied, according to David Procopio, state police spokesman.

"They remain on the terminated list,'' Mr. Procopio said.

The relationship between the towing business and state police had existed for decades. Pat's was primarily used for service calls on Interstate 290, Mr. Santa Maria Sr. said last year.

He said that the state police work was a tiny portion of his business. He estimated that AAA accounted for 30 percent, while a contract with the city to remove cars at accidents, after arrests and during declared parking bans generated 60 percent of his work. Contracts with property owners for so-called trespass towing accounts for the remainder of his revenues, he said.

Trespass towing is not part of Pat's five-year contract with the city, Mr. Santa Maria said. He pays $170,600 each of the five years of the contract to tow vehicles from five sectors of the city.

Mr. Procopio said last year that towing companies engaged by the state police serve at the will of individual station commanders. The agreements permit the state police to suspend or remove any towing company for a variety of reasons, including engaging in criminal conduct or being the subject of a criminal investigation.

City officials are also reviewing their contract with Pat's Service Center & Towing in light of recent developments.

Patsy Santa Maria Sr.'s son Patsy Santa Maria Jr., 42, of 15 Old Orchard Road, Boylston, pleaded guilty Thursday to assault charges stemming from the beating of another man Dec. 13, 2011, at Pat's Service Center and Towing on Shrewsbury St. He was placed on probation Thursday with a suspended jail sentence.

The business has been owned by the elder Mr. Santa Maria since 1965.

David Santa Maria, 44, of 1132 Boylston St., another of the elder Mr. Santa Maria's sons, is awaiting trial on identical charges in the 2011 beating.

Their father, who was released after posting $10,000 cash bail set by Judge Janet J. McGuiggan, is alleged to have offered a witness at Patsy Santa Maria Jr.'s trial $25,000 to "tweak'' his testimony in the case.

Contact Linda Bock at lbock@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @LindaBockTG
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Title Annotation:Local
Author:Bock, Linda
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 16, 2013
Words:654
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