San Bernardino, CA – A trial is pending after a lawsuit was filed by the owner of Pepe’s Towing – Manny Acosta, alleging civil rights violations by defendants who were/are employed by the City of San Bernardino.

Fifteen defendants, including current and former Mayors, Council Members, City Managers, and the Police Chief – amongst others, are named in the lawsuit due to their involvement in the regulation and approval of city towing service agreements. The allegations span more than 15 years and outline resolution changes, negligent practices, falsifying records, and conspiracy to keep Pepe’s Towing from obtaining a towing agreement with the City. Attorney Stephen Larson from Larson O’Brien LLP is representing Mr. Acosta in the case.

Pepe's Towing Service Truck
Photo courtesy of San Bernardino Sun

Now, the Law Offices of Pelayes & Yu is representing Mr. Acosta as he makes another attempt to apply for a tow carrier spot that is currently unfilled. Attorney Tristan Pelayes has also submitted a Public Records Act request to obtain records relating to tow company applications, inspections, and related documents.

An open bid process and evaluation of tow rotation contracts and compliance was proposed and discussed between Mr. Acosta and City Officials more than ten times. During these meetings, inadequacies, unfair practices, and lack of compliance by current rotations tow companies were brought to their attention, including violations of state ordinances and state and federal environmental laws.

Evidence and testimony has already revealed that tow company inspections by the city and police department were either missing, incomplete, or falsified – yet they continued to approve the contracts.

Additionally, “pay to play” antics appear to be an underlying theme after discovering that the towing companies made contributions toward elected officials campaigns, to include current Mayor John Valdivia. This is supported by a declaration submitted by the Mayor’s Field Rep – Don Smith. He stated that he witnessed the owner of Danny’s Towing, Danny Alcarez, give Mayor Valdivia an envelope of cash during a late-night private meeting at a restaurant in the fall of 2018. Mr. Alcarez stated that the money was from the existing tow carriers operating in the City of San Bernardino as a way to thank the Mayor for his support of their businesses.

Despite attempts by Mr. Acosta to resolve the complaint in a reasonable manner, the City of San Bernardino has yet to propose a fair settlement agreement.

“This is yet another example of poor leadership and lack of accountability by city officials. They continue to abuse their powers with no consequences at the expense of the residents.”

Attorney Tristan Pelayes

If you have any information related to these allegations, please contact the Law Offices of Pelayes & Yu at (844) 998-1033 or