By Charisma L. Miller, Esq.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The New York City Department of Investigation (DOI) alleges that three medallion owners have violated the rules and regulations governing taxicab owners and drivers.
Angel Oswald, controller of the Brooklyn entity On Our Way, along with two other medallion agents, was charged with submitting forged medallion lease agreements to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC).
Medallions are valuable taxi “real estate.” A medallion is a designated plate number evidencing that a particular vehicle is a TLC licensed cab. Medallion agents lease out medallions for a fee, and more often than not, drivers complain that medallion lease fees are unreasonable.
The TLC requires taxi agents to maintain current Medallion Lease Agreements with taxi drivers and to produce these agreements upon TLC’s request. DOI initiated its investigation after the TLC reported to DOI that it requested medallion taxi agents to produce their leases, and the TLC noted discrepancies on some of the submitted agreements.
The TLC rule is designed to ensure there is a written contract governing the terms of the relationship between the taxi driver and medallion agent, safeguarding taxi drivers from unlawful treatment.
According to the criminal complaints, in February 2012, TLC updated its Rulebook and directed all agents to produce any and all lease agreements and car purchase agreements the agents had possession of on or after Jan. 1, 2010.
During DOI’s investigation, it was discovered that many of Oswald’s leases were backdated and that he signed some of the drivers’ names on the leases. Furthermore, three taxi drivers stated they had not signed or initialed agreements submitted by Oswald.
“Taxi drivers work long hours in demanding jobs, and they have the right to be paid fairly,” said TLC Commissioner David Yassky. Yassky further noted that DOI’s investigation “has secured over $100,000 in restitution to drivers who have been cheated by fleet owners.”
DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn believed the “arrests show that forgery is not a detour around the TLC’s rules and regulations.”
If convicted, Oswald could receive up to seven years in prison.