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Charlotte Area

Cab Company Owned By Felons Holds Lucrative MeckCo Contract

The same cab company that has been rejected for a contract with the Charlotte airport because its owners are convicted felons also has a lucrative contract with Mecklenburg County's Department of Social Services. Charlotte's city manager recently decided it was not in the best interest of the city or the public to award a contract for airport taxi service to King and Royal Cab companies when the criminal record of the owners came to light. Javed and Naheed Kashmary were convicted in 2006 of felonies for trying to get 40 fake driver's licenses. Both did time in federal prison and Naheed remains on probation. Still, the Kashmary's Royal Cab company won a contract last summer with Mecklenburg County to transport Medicaid patients, senior citizens and people with disabilities. DSS budgeted $9.8 million for the services in 2010, and most of that would be split among nine transportation companies. Much of that money comes from state and federal funding. Based on the previous year's data, Royal Cab will likely collect in excess of $2 million. Mecklenburg County Commissioners Jim Pendergraph and Karen Bentley say they don't think the county should be doing business with convicted felons. Commissioner Harold Cogdell says the issue suggests the county should do more due diligence on its vendors. Royal Cab attorney Monroe Whitesides says there's no need for concern. "You have to look at how they performed under the contract," says Whitesides. "They've performed admirably. Whether they're felons or not, the question is who's the best company to perform that service for the city and the county?" Whitesides is also challenging the city manager's decision to disqualify the Kashmarys from bidding on an airport taxi contract. Mecklenburg County DSS said in a statement the agency has "no cause to terminate the contract with Royal Cab." The county's request for proposals to provide DSS transportation services did not specify company owners should be free of criminal convictions. City ordinance prohibits felons from being taxi drivers, but not cab company owners. County Manager Harry Jones and Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Roberts issued a joint statement to WFAE saying Royal Cab's "services have been rated as satisfactory" and "there have been no issues with the company's invoices to DSS." Jones and Roberts would not comment on whether the contract with Royal Cab is appropriate. Other commissioners did not respond to requests for comment Friday. All Mecklenburg County DSS transportation contracts - including Royal Cab's - are set to expire at the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. A county spokesman says the contracts are under review and have yet to be renewed.