KINGSTON — State Trooper Daniel Mimnaugh said Monday the investigation started in December 2012 when his father-in-law was involved in a car accident and his vehicle was towed by LAG Towing, owned by Leo Glodzik III.
Mimnaugh noticed some red flags on the towing receipt regarding what he called “excessive” fees, and he brought the information to agents with the FBI, where he works on a drug task force.
That information led to an investigation that eventually charged Glodzik, 42, of Duryea, with two counts of theft alleging Glodzik took $2,100 in bait money. Glodzik had been the Wilkes-Barre’s tower with an exclusive contract to tow vehicles involved in accidents or police matters.
District Judge Paul Roberts on Monday sent the charges to county court after an hour-long preliminary hearing with First Assistant District Attorney Samuel Sanguedolce calling Mimnaugh as his only witness.
Glodzik now faces a formal arraignment in Luzerne County Court on Nov. 1.
Mimnaugh said agents with the FBI already had a folder containing complaints about Glodzik.
Mimnaugh said he approached Glodzik about the towing fees, to which Glodzik said there was a mix-up with a similar vehicle that was also in his lot. Glodzik pulled a “large roll” of money from his pocket and handed Mimnaugh four $100 bills.
On Jan. 14, Mimnaugh testified as part of the investigation he spoke with Glodzik about exclusively towing vehicles seized by Mimnaugh’s drug task force — a rouse to further investigate Glodzik.
Mimnaugh called Glodzik on Jan. 25 regarding a “drug car” where Glodzik allegedly asked about what Mimnaugh does with certain evidence left in vehicles.
When the vehicle was towed back to Glodzik’s Carey Avenue garage, Glodzik crumpled up a piece of paper — a $100 bill — and told Mimnaugh to “take it.”
Fifteen days later Mimnaugh called Glodzik with another “drug car” to be towed, but Glodzik sent a worker to pick up the car.
Mimnaugh testified he called Glodzik on the way to LAG Towing and told Glodzik he didn’t “check the ashtray really well.”
Agents had placed $2,100 in bait money in the ashtray, Mimnaugh testified, money that Glodzik removed from the vehicle and placed in his pocket.
A few minutes later, Mimnaugh testified, Glodzik removed the money from his pocket, placed it in a paper towel and told Mimnaugh it was “11 o’clock” — meaning $1,100 was in the paper towel.
That’s when agents were called in and Glodzik was arrested, Mimnaugh said.
Mimnaugh said he was present when agents later interviewed Glodzik, who allegedly admitted to taking the $2,100.
Glodzik’s attorney, Joseph Sklarosky Sr., questioned Mimnaugh about whether he was an “expert” on towing fees. Sklarosky also said the investigation into Glodzik only began because of a personal reason involving Mimnaugh.
Sklarosky questioned Mimnaugh about the FBI never investigating Glodzik before, even though they had a file folder of complaints.
Sklarosky repeatedly asked Mimnaugh if he and other agents questioned Glodzik about kickbacks to Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton and Chief of Police Gerry Dessoye and other police officers.
The prosecutor objected to each of Sklarosky’s six or seven questions on that issue, and the district judge agreed each time that the trooper did not have to respond.
“You wanted to put him against the eight ball … to try to find out about him giving kickbacks,” Sklarosky said. “And you found out he wasn’t doing any of those things.”
Sklarosky said Mimnaugh told Glodzik in a conversation that he knew the mayor and chief of police were “dirty” to try to elicit information and that Mimnaugh accused Glodzik of being on drugs.
Sklarosky also said the charges against his client should be thrown out because prosecutors did not establish whose money Glodzik allegedly took.
The Mayor’s Office released a statement Monday night in response to Sklarosky’s questions regarding Leighton and Dessoye.
“Attorney Sklarosky’s comments are typical defense tactics to divert attention or responsibility away from the charges against his client. Mayor Leighton and Chief Dessoye have not done anything wrong,” the statement read.