Police raid triggers slew of allegations, investigations

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Police investigations can be pretty complex. But few are as complicated as one incredible story of how a police raid in Detroit has triggered a slew of allegations, investigations and frustrations.

It all went down just about a year ago at Bestway Auto Sales on Livernois. The business owner, James Scott, says it was the day his life was turned upside down.

"That particular day, all hell broke loose," Scott says. "Everything I worked for was stripped from me."

Scott doesn't mince words when he talks about the February 2, 2012, raid at his used auto sales and scrap metal business. His anger is pointed at the western-Wayne Auto Theft Task Force, which is run by the Michigan State Police. 

Scott shakes his head in disgust as he says, "They waited until we left to invade our house, tear down the door and just tore the house apart."

Scott says the task force was searching for stolen cars that had been towed by independent tow truck drivers that worked with him. The drivers found vehicles to be crushed and sold as scrap.

Scott sells used cars and recycles others for scrap metal.  He uses independent tow truck drivers to find the junk cars.  The drivers then take them to the crusher and the scrap steel company pays Scott for the value of the metal.

"I was number one in this town in the scrapping business, but i did it honest," Scott says.

But he says his business is all but ruined now. The task force trashed his home, hauled away his property including used car inventory--and, he claims, they took $180,000 in cash from his safe.

Mathew Brown, Scott's attorney says, "This is one of the most egregious actions I've ever seen."

Scott and his attorney showed us bank receipts that indicate he had withdrawn the cash he claims the task force took from his home. They also gave us photos showing how the family home was trashed during the raid. 

We've also obtained a search warrant that the raid team used to seize the property from Scott's business and his home. Some of the items have been returned, but there's been no mention of the money.

There are still 19 vehicles, including trucks needed for his business, that are locked away in storage.  So we went to get some answers.

The Michigan State Police office in Taylor  and another in Livonia were home to those who headed the task force that raided Scott's home back then. But no one in charge is talking for now.

Not Lt. Ray Collins, the man responsible for the raid,  and not Kevin Reif, a Redford police sergeant who headed the investigation into Scott's business.

We were able to get a response from the Michigan State Police Headquarters in Lansing.  They gave us a written statement,  which confirms that, "…an investigation was initiated on 4/25/12, following a report that money was stolen during the execution of a search warrant at the residence of Mr. James Scott. This investigation is ongoing."

Beyond that, what we do know is that since the raid a year ago, not a single tow truck driver has been charged despite evidence that 60 stolen vehicles had been scrapped by Scott's company over a 10-month period.

Forms obtained by 7 Action News show both the state attorney general, and the Wayne County prosecutor refused to charge Scott.

A written statement from Kym Worthy's office says that "since Bestway does not possess the vehicles original title--and the vehicle is destroyed at Strong Steel… there is no way for the suspect (Mr. Scott) to know if the vehicles it sells are stolen."

Meanwhile, the cost of this raid continues to climb for Scott.  He recently went to Gene's Towing, where the seized trucks have been stored since the raid, only to be told that he must pay more than $30,000 to get them back.

Jason Brown is also Scott's attorney. He says, "Obviously he didn't get his money back. He didn't get his vehicles back,  and he's being told he has to pay for the storage fees."

Scott is now suing to get his property, his business and his reputation back.

"My business had reached a peak in Detroit," he says. "i took nothing and raised it to the top, but now my life is destroyed."

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