BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The F-B-I and Buffalo police raided the car dealership, Jim Mazz Auto on Bailey Avenue Wednesday afternoon around 12:30 p.m.
Jim Mazz also operates a towing service which was part of a detailed report on the towing wars in Buffalo . Authorities have been investigating possible corruption in the City's towing business for years.
Armed with a federal search warrant, agents from the FBI and the IRS swarmed the Jim Mazz Auto dealership and its related operations, which includes a towing service.
Three state agencies were also on the scene in an investigation initiated by the City of Buffalo.
Mayor Byron Brown told us, when city officials received complaints about towing services including claims of police taking payoffs, he turned those complaints over to the police department.
Mayor Brown says, "The City has received a number of complaints in progress for some time."
These complaints include: tow truck operators fighting over tows, unlicensed operators working in the City, and allegations some police officers have taken payoffs in exchange for business.
Steven Cohen, an attorney for the Jim Mazz's owner says the raid is going to backfire on the City.
He says the raid is retaliation by the City for owner Jim Mazzariello's complaints about police payoffs, which is costing the towing company a lot of business.
Cohen says Mazz's tow operators have complained about police soliciting bribes for City business. "They are looking into allegations of corruption, involving roof tops since 2004."
The City's ongoing investigation into the towing industry led to changes in the way City officials allow tow companies to operate in the City, tightening up licensing requirements, and contracts.
No arrests were made, but attorneys told us the search warrant authorized the seizure of certain records and office equipment, which agents sealed and took into custody.
City officials have been looking into complaints for at least a year, until the government got on the case.
The investigation all started and became public after a tow truck driver was shot and killed back in May allowing us to learn of a turf war between the towing companies.
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