Police arrested Jason Combs on Friday after investigating several claims made by victims who said their vehicles were illegally towed. One victim said he was targeted because of his sexual orientation, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
The Gay Days celebration, which had its 24th year last month, is an annual festival that attracts thousands of people to the area and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Combs, who operates ASAP Towing, was charged with 29 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and 60 counts of violating a county towing ordinance. Authorities said he raked in $16,000, but lacked the authority to tow the vehicles.
Combs towed the vehicles from a parking lot at Westwood Town Center, which is across the street from the Gay Days host hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton, even though his contract with Westwood expired in May and was not renewed until mid-June, according to the paper.
Police said Combs and "spotters" assisting him allegedly kept watch on the area and towed the vehicles within minutes of visitors parking to visit shops and other establishments.
"Visitors would park in the Westwood Town Center at 6109 Westwood Boulevard (across from the event's headquarters) and patronize various shops and restaurants there, only to emerge and find that their cars were towed," the Orange County Sheriff's office said in a Facebook post announcing the arrest. "We will not tolerate those who take advantage of our citizens or visitors."
Those whose cars were towed had to take a cab ride to a towing facility over 10 miles away — also a violation of the state's law — and with that, authorities said they are investigating possible collusion with cab drivers who lined up to serve the stranded motorists.
The Orange County Sheriff's office did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.