A Beard’s Towing employee is accused of falsifying training records to obtain a state license, according to an arrest affidavit obtained May 11 by the Fort Worth Report. 

Jennifer Gaither, an instructor for Training of Wrecker Services and a dispatcher for Beard’s Towing, was arrested for suspicion of tampering with a government record. Gaither signed the names of eight Beard’s Towing employees on a sign-in sheet for a Training of Wrecker Services course, according to the warrant, without informing them.

She is still employed by Beard’s Towing, an attorney for the company said. 

Shawn Tallant,  a former employee of Beard’s Towing, was one of the employees whose name was signed. He submitted a police report March 8, 2022, alleging that employees of Beard’s Towing knowingly forged signatures to avoid completing mandatory training to maintain a Towing Operator and Incident Management Certification Licensing, according to the warrant. 

Licenses are issued by the Texas Department of Licensure and Regulation, which opened an investigation into Beard’s Towing for three separate complaints. Tela Mange, public information officer with the department, confirmed the investigation was still ongoing as of May 10. 

The city previously suspended its relationship with Beard’s Towing pending dual state and local investigations into the alleged fraudulent activity. 

James Bennett Jr., owner of Beard’s Towing, told The Report in April the company had retained attorney Matthew Bobo and that the allegations against the company were a result of a disgruntled ex-employee. Beard’s Towing itself is no longer under investigation by the police department, Bobo said. However, the Fort Worth Police Department said it could not confirm the status of the investigation. 

“Her arrest involves her activities as a contractor with Training of Wrecker Services and nothing to do with her as an employee of Beard’s,” Bobo said May 11. 

After receiving an email that his state certification was set to expire, Tallant approached Chloe Bennett, an employee of Beard’s Towing, who told him the renewal was already completed. Later, Tallant received his license renewal identification card without completing the required training himself, the warrant alleges. 

“Tallant further stated that Bennett would do this for Beard’s Towing employees so the company could maintain a full team of drivers,” the warrant states. 

Tallant went on to discuss the license renewal with several other Beard’s Towing employees, who confirmed that it was commonplace to have another employee complete state-mandated training on behalf of another employee, the warrant states.

The Fort Worth Police Department executed a search warrant on Beard’s Towing property, 4400 E. Loop 820 S., on April 4, 2022. Police seized a laptop, multiple flash drives, documents and personnel files for Shawn Tallant and a video camera. Based on the evidence they collected, the officer in charge of the case said there was probable reason to believe Gaither had knowingly presented false documents to the state licensing department.

Beard’s is one of at least 23 approved towing companies used by the city of Fort Worth. AutoReturn, a national company based in San Francisco, manages the companies as subcontractors for about $525,000 each year. The company first entered into an agreement with the city in 2018, and the current contract expires in September. 

Under the contract with AutoReturn, the city has several disciplinary options for subcontractors, including mentoring the company, issuing temporary suspensions for up to 90 days and permanently suspending the company from the city’s list of approved towing providers.

Originally, the city’s contract with Beard’s extended into 2023, according to assistant city manager Fernando Costa. The contract was suspended after the city learned of the allegations against the company. 

Beard’s has been in business since 1954, and city records show the company has secured contracts with Fort Worth since at least 2012.

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter.

Emily Wolf is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at emily.wolf@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Rachel Behrndt

Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for fortworthreport.org. She can be reached at rachel.behrndt@fortworthreport.org

Emily Wolf

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She grew up in Round Rock, Texas, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in investigative...