One of the owners, Michael Denn, previously charged with 2nd degree murder after shooting a man at his tow yard.
On August 11, 2021, PCSO detectives concluded an investigation into illegal towing practices being committed by a Mulberry business, Strapped Towing, specifically within the Stoll Manor Mobile Home Park in Lakeland, and charged the owners, husband and wife Michael and Elissa Denn, with multiple felonies.
The investigation began when PCSO received complaints from residents of the park about Strapped Towing coming into the neighborhood at night, when management wasn’t there, and towing vehicles the business deemed were in violation of a written agreement with Stoll.
Detectives obtained a copy of the written and signed agreement between Stoll Manor and Strapped Towing, which states: “vehicles should be towed IMMEDIATELY if they are ‘blocking exits,’ parked in ‘grass,’ or ‘on the street,’ including ‘boats and trailers.’”
The contract stated that the services were to start on May 15, 2021.
A section on the agreement listed as “violation program” states: “violations will be stickered for the following: jackstands, flat tire(s), immobilized, and no plates. Just below this section in bold print the agreement reads, “All violations will be reported to management via email within 24 hours of being stickered.” Nowhere on the agreement does it mention that Strapped Towing is authorized to tow vehicles for the reasons listed in the “violation program” section – it states the violators will receive a sticker depicting the violation.
Between May 15th and May 16th, 2021, Strapped Towing removed 19 vehicles from inside Stoll Manor, and provided the vehicle owners with the address of 1330 Virginia Street in Mulberry as the storage facility where the vehicles were being taken. Each of the vehicles’ owners had to respond to the Mulberry location and pay cash to recover their vehicles.
According to Google Maps, Stoll Manor Mobile Home Park, located at 1123 Walt Williams Road in Lakeland, is approximately 16.7 miles from Strapped Towing’s storage facility in Mulberry, placing the storage facility well outside of a ten-mile radius of Stoll Manor Mobile Home Park.
Florida Statute 715.07(2a)(1a): In any county with a population of more than 500,000, any vehicle towed must be stored within a 10-mile radius from the point of removal. Violation of this statute is a third degree felony.
The Strapped Towing trucks that were used to tow vehicles from the park were marked with the name of the business, a phone number, and “Lakeland, FL.” (see attached photos)
Florida Statute 715.07(2a)(7): Any person, or towing firm, conducting a private property tow without consent of the owner shall, on any vehicle used to tow, have the name, address, and telephone number of the company performing the tow. Violation of this statute is a third degree felony.
The 19th vehicle towed by Strapped, on May 16, 2021, belonged to Juan Barroso-Muriel’s brother-in-law. A neighbor witnessed and filmed the event, which shows Juan, his brother-in-law, and his brother-in-law’s wife, pleading with Michael Denn to allow them to keep the vehicle there on premises. The vehicle is seen parked partially under a carport (not on grass, or on the street, or blocking an exit). The vehicle’s owner is seen holding the vehicle’s tag. Denn tows the vehicle despite this.
Florida Statute 715.07(2a)(3): During the process of any private property tow for a vehicle being unlawfully parked, if a person seeks the return of the vehicle, the tow must be stopped. The vehicle must be returned upon payment of a reasonable fee of not more than one-half of the posted rate. The vehicle can only be towed after the owner or legally authorized person in control of the vehicle is offered a reasonable opportunity to pay and they are unable to pay. Violation of this statute is a third degree felony.
Polk County Ordinance 10.3-63 sets the administrative fee, a one-time charge that a towing service may legally impose once the vehicle has been placed in the storage area, of $45.00 plus $10.00 per certified letter sent after three days in storage, not to exceed $75.00 total.
On May 16th, Michael and Elissa Denn violated FSS 715.07(2a)(3) by not stopping the tow in progress when confronted by the owner, and not offering the vehicle owner an opportunity to pay a reasonable fee at that time (which, per ordinance, is not to exceed one-half of the posted rate).
As previously released, the next day, May 17th, Michael Denn fatally shot Juan Barroso-Muriel* at the Strapped Towing storage area in Mulberry when Juan responded there with his brother-in-law to retrieve that towed vehicle and an altercation ensued. Denn was arrested and charged with second degree murder on May 18, 2021. He has been in the Polk County Jail since that time, and is being additionally charged with 21 felonies related to the illegal towing (19 counts storing vehicles outside 10-mile radius, one count failure to have address properly marked on tow vehicle, one count failure to stop tow at owner’s request).
Click here to read that news release: https://tinyurl.com/3wf8kzfm
Elissa Denn was arrested on August 11, 2021, and booked into the Polk County Jail for:
· Two counts failure to have address properly marked on private property tow vehicle (F3)
· 19 counts storing vehicles outside of a 10-mile radius from removal location (F3)
*Juan’s name is being released with permission from his family.