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Tow truck driver facing felonies, injunction, criminal contempt charge, continues to tow three days after WBTV investigation

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) — For years, WBTV has warned about David Satterfield and his story of pepper spraying and illegal car towing. Even though he’s been branded a habitual felon and has an active restraining order against him that practically prevents him from continuing to tow, he continues to tow anyway.

Now, the North Carolina Department of Justice is pursuing a criminal contempt charge against Satterfield and his company. The indictment is the latest in an NCDOJ lawsuit that began two years ago accusing Satterfield of price gouging during the pandemic.

Despite the plethora of legal challenges Satterfield faces, his business is still going strong.

Brittani Barnett contacted WBTV after her car was towed from the apartment complex where she lives on August 7.

“The fact that he’s always towing is unreal,” Barnett said. “I don’t even understand after everything that’s happened, why is he still allowed to do this?”

Barnett says Satterfield’s Automobile Recovery and Parking Enforcement has been towing at his compound for years, even after WBTV reports, his arrests and the injunction that North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says is supposed to prevent Satterfield and company from this behavior.

“It basically prohibits them from doing this work while the case is going on,” Stein told WBTV in May 2020.

Barnett had to pay $276 to get his car back and one of his neighbors had to pay $230. According to the injunction, Satterfield potentially violated the limits of the order against him in those two tows.

According to the injunction, Satterfield is limited to charging customers no more than $250 for a tow, it is prohibited from charging credit card, storage, and all charges outside of towing and starting. His company must also receive written permission from the owner of the property to each vehicle it tows.

The conditions make it virtually impossible to operate a towing business and comply with the injunction’s limitations.

Barnett was charged multiple fees and over $250.

“I have my kids, the rent just got paid. I don’t have money like that for this guy, especially for someone who shouldn’t even be towing,” Barnett said.

“It shouldn’t be able to tow. He shouldn’t even be able to operate a business under any name, under any circumstances.

“He’s rude, he’s pompous, and he thinks he’s invincible and someone has to stop him,” Barnett said.

Nobody did.

The Attorney General’s office is pursuing a criminal contempt charge case against Satterfield for violating the injunction. If the judge rules against Satterfield, he could face censure, jail time, fines or other penalties.

One of the examples used in the NCDOJ filing comes from a WBTV report involving a tractor-trailer driver towed by Satterfield.

The injunction against Satterfield was filed two years ago. Since then, he has been prosecuted, arrested, charged with stealing weapons and money, and branded a habitual criminal. Including the NCDOJ lawsuit, there are several ongoing cases Satterfield is facing that could see him sent to jail for a significant amount of time.

Barnett called CMPD when his car was towed away, but said officers told him it was a civil matter.

“Do you feel like someone is protecting you in this situation?” a WBTV reporter asked Barnett.

“No. You feel helpless, and then when you feel helpless, you feel hopeless,” Barnett said.

WBTV emailed both the CMPD and the NCDOJ and asked if there was a way the agencies could work together to protect Charlotte car owners while the legal process unfolds. WBTV requested a response by September 1.

Attorney General Josh Stein and a few North Carolina state legislators have expressed interest in exploring the regulation of towing companies to limit predatory behavior.

“My biggest fear is that we’ll start having copycat towing companies because if they feel invincible they’ll start doing the same thing,” Barnett said.

WBTV also emailed Rye Point Apartments’ management company, Community Management Corporation, to explain why Satterfield is allowed to tow for them and whether they would be willing to reimburse their residents towed by him on August 7.

CMC did not provide a response, but the Satterfield signs were removed for Seigle Point.