Saturday, August 16, 2008
Towing Kickback Scheme Exposed In Chicago (This Blog Breaks Down The Numbers)
A Chicago police officer has been forced to turn in his badge and gun, and now stands accused of taking kickbacks to direct business to one particular towing company, and it's looking pretty bad for the officer...
...because one of the tow truck drivers was cooperating as a witness and the lame-brain officer actually kept a tally in his ticket book. The arrangement went on for two years, says this article.
According to reporter Alan Schmidt, the officer is accused of "raking in" $600 to $800 a week for steering business (nice pun) to a particular towing company. The article doesn't specify which towing company.
According to my 11-year-old son's calculations, 52 weeks a year times two years is 104 weeks. So 104 weeks times $600 a week (minimum) is $62,400. This is the minimum Officer Michael Ciancio, 56, allegedly raked in. If the estimate was off, and he actually made $800 a week, that would be $83,200. (Again, credit to my son who happens to be a math whiz, but didn't need to be for these calculations)
So the officer apparently raked in between $62,400 and $83,200. Wait, it gets better! Over the past 15 years...I say again, FIFTEEN YEARS!--the tow truck driver had similar arrangements with "other officers" in the same police district, and with a neighboring police district.
So let's do the same kind of math. How many officers are we talking about, here? Well, at a minimum, one more officer in Ciancio's district, and then one more officer in a neighboring district. So if one officer can rake in $600 a week, MINIMUM, that's $31,200. OK, so how much can three officers make every year, at a MINIMUM of $600 per week? The answer--and my son is starting to find this just a bit tedious compared to his video game--is $93,600.
OK, how much if those three officers were raking in $800 per week? Well, that would be $41,600 per officer. Times three officers per year is $124,800. (At this point, my son emits a low whistle and says, "That's a LOT!" The scandal is starting to draw his interest away from his video game, just a bit)
"Is there any more?" he asks, hopefully.
Yes, my son, there is. First of all, though, we can't put Officer Cianco all the way into our calculations, because he was only doing this for TWO YEARS. All we can do is assume there were TWO OTHER OFFICERS whose arrangement with the driver went on for fifteen years. OK, so if each officer made a minimum of $31,200 per year and a maximum of $41,600, then how much could two officers rake in, total, if they were on the take for 15 years?
OK, first my kid has to figure out how many weeks there are in 15 years. (15 x 52) There are 780 weeks in 15 years.
Take 780 and multiply it by the weekly income of $600. That would be $468,000 per officer, for 15 years. So if we double that (because there were two officers on the take for 15 years) then the minimum income for 15 years for those two officers would be $936,000.
OK, but now we need to figure out how much money could have been raked in, if it was actually $800 a week for 15 years. So take 780 and multiply it by the weekly income of $800. That would be $624,000. (My son is doing an excellent job keeping up, now that we've started using the calculator on his computer) Multiply this by two, because there were at least two officers on the take for the whole 15 years. So that would be $1,248,000.
(Yes, we've finally broken the million dollar figure)
OK, now take the minimum and maximum take of Officer Ciancio for two years. As we've established, his minimum take was $600 a week, for two years, so $62,400. His maximum take was $800 a week, so that would be $83,200.
Adding the 2-year Ciancio figures to the maximum and minimum 15-year take of the other two officers produces the following results.
$62,400 (Ciancio minimum 2 year take) plus $936,000 (the other two officers' minimum 15 year take) is $998,400.
(I'm disappointed. I had hoped the minimum number would break a million. But it's so close to a million it can be rounded up quite easily)
$83,200 (Ciancio maximum 2 year take) plus $1,248,000 (the other two officers' maximum 15 year take) produces a number of $1,331,200.
Final conclusion: According to simple math, the alleged towing kickback scheme raked in almost a million bucks, no matter how you slice it. Of course, this is assuming the minimum number of officers. If there were actually half a dozen officers involved--not just the minimum number--the maximum and minimum take will start to get outrageously high rather quickly.
NOW HERE IS THE SAD PART: This isn't anything unique. Towing kickbacks happen all over the nation because of non-consent towing systems that rake in huge amounts of money, but have too few controls or safeguards. It's not just Chicago. Similar flows of "oily cash" are driving abusive and predatory towing practices all over the nation.