The owner and manager of tow truck companies in Bristol and Plainville has been charged with insurance fraud, having been accused of appropriating tens of thousands of dollars in overcharges.
Christopher Pio, 51, of 68 Brightwood Lane, Southington, faces two counts each of first-degree larceny, insurance fraud and failure to maintain wrecker records, in addition to one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny, failure of a motor vehicle repair shop to provide estimate and charging excessive wrecker rates.
Additionally, the Department of Motor Vehicles has charged the 51-year-old with 27 counts of failure to conduct safety inspection and five counts of violating a car dealership registry requirements, among other offenses.
Pio, who was charged earlier this month, is free on $200,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear before a judge in New Britain Superior Court on Friday.
According to court documents, Pio owns Chris’ Auto Clinic, located at 16 Forestville Ave. in Plainville, and Auto Star, LLC., at 150 Pine St. in Bristol. Court papers also indicate he manages Elite Collision Center, located at 213 Frederick St., Bristol. The owner of Elite is named in the warrant, though judicial records on Thursday indicated he has not been charged.
In one case, police allege, Pio appropriated about $20,000 in overcharges to himself and improperly documented services rendered, “as well as a possible additional amount of $30,960.60….” In another, according to police, documentation shows “blatant overcharging totaling $34,684.38, as well as a possible additional amount of $63,407.77….”
“These invoices are a mere 17-month window of time into the seven years that Elite Collision Center has been operating as a wrecker service business,” investigators wrote in the warrant for one of the cases. “It is impossible to measure the amount of money Christopher Pio has fraudulently taken from citizens and insurance companies alike.”
In the other case, police added in the warrant that they could not possibly look into the possible fraudulent activity from the 22 years Pio has been operating a wrecker service.
According to the warrant for Pio’s arrest, police received a call in December from someone who wished to remain anonymous, alleging that Pio charges customers excessive rates for things like storage, administrative fees and labor and services that were never performed.
In one case, police said, investigators found 27 invoices submitted to make a claim for payment to defraud an insurance company. In another, police were able to turn up 18 invoices used to allegedly defraud insurance companies, court papers said.
This is not the first time Pio has been charged with insurance fraud, though court records do not show any convictions on his record.
He was arrested in late 2017 and accused at that time of towing a vehicle from another tow company in Bristol without the owner’s permission. The vehicle had been involved in an accident in Bristol in April 2017 and had been taken from the scene by Elite Collision Center, LLC., in Bristol. The warrant in that matter alleged that Pio’s company had the vehicle, a 2005 Honda Accord, towed from Elite to Chris’ Auto Clinic without the owner’s permission and stored it there for eight days, before billing her $1,672.35.
The woman’s insurance company paid the bill before two complaints were filed in July 2017 with the DMV. The other complaint alleged that Elite Collision Center inflated the costs of the job and billed the woman $438.16, court papers said.
Judicial records indicate Pio was not convicted in the 2017 case.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.