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'Parking lot sheriff' arrested for draconian towing charges

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'Parking lot sheriff' arrested for draconian towing charges
Photo: DPA
17:03 CET+01:00
An Augsburg business owner known as the “parking lot sheriff” has been charged with extortion and coercion for taking advantage of parking offenders by confiscating their vehicles and demanding exorbitant fees, court officials said Thursday.

“He simply went too far,” spokesperson for the Augsburg public prosecutor's office Matthias Nickolai said.

The 30-year-old man is accused of 43 counts of extortion and 12 counts of coercion after forced money out of drivers for illegal parking under contract of supermarkets, hospitals and clinics, Nickolai confirmed.

He and his employees reportedly waited only moments to block the cars, use tire clamps and tow these cars – after which they demanded some €400 from their owners before revealing the location of the vehicles. The amount is well over the norm for towing fees, Nickolai said.

His case was initially heard it he city's municipal court, but the judge there found his transgressions to be outside the courts' jurisdiction and referred it to the district court – which issued an arrest warrant this week due to the commercial nature of the alleged crimes.

“That increases the possible punishment from one year to 15 years,” Nickolai said.

The court has not set a trial date yet.

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