Investigation: Local Limo Companies Operating Without Valid Licenses
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In the wake of the deadly Bay area limo accident that killed five women, CBS2′s David Goldstein investigates local limo companies operating without valid licenses.
It’s wedding and prom season. Goldstein investigates why local limo companies — with pulled licenses — are still transporting passengers.
With a hidden camera, we went shopping for a limo. “It’s for a wedding,” said his undercover producer.
Goldstein found companies whose licenses have been suspended — or revoked — and they’re still soliciting business and not hiding a thing.
UPDATE– [In August, 2013 A2A Limo was granted an active and valid license by the state]
Reports Goldstein, “We went searching for companies on the internet.” He saw a slick website for Millenium Limousine Services.
The company touts itself as “One of the premiere limousine companies in the world.” Their fleet? “Unquestionably the best in Los Angeles.”
What they didn’t tell you, is that their license was revoked on April 24th of this year, according to the PUC, the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates limo companies.
We obtained their Safety Compliance Report from the CHP from December of last year — which rated them “Unsatisfactory.” It was the company’s fourth consecutive “Unsatisfactory” rating. Because of that, the CHP recommended the suspension.
We met with Asatur Galadjian — who goes by the name of Steve. He and his wife own Millenium.
We took a tour of his party bus, one of two of his vehicles that flunked the CHP safety inspection. The bus rents for $225 an hour, plus a mandatory $45 an hour in tips.
Galadjian says, “My PUC is not active. It will be active this week.”
He told our undercover producer that his PUC permit wasn’t active and until it was, he said he couldn’t book the bus. “Hopefully it will be activated by Monday,” he said.
But Steve didn’t say his license was revoked. He also didn’t tell her that the LA City Attorney has filed misdemeanor charges against him and his wife for — among other things — failing to maintain proper records.
Goldstein introduced himself. “I’m David Goldstein, CBS2 News.”
But “Steve” denied it. “No, I have not been charged yet,” said Galadjian.
When Goldstein insisted he had, Galadjian said, “No, I haven’t.”
He also claimed he can solicit business while his license is revoked.
Goldstein asks if the PUC told him he could conduct business while his license was revoked. “Yes,” he replied.
But Mark Lambert, the City Attorney handling the case says he can’t. “They can’t solicit business. They can’t advertise as a limo service and not display a number that’s been expired, revoked or issued to them.”
Steve told Goldstein he’s going to get his license back soon. He showed him new paperwork. “Let’s go back in the front, so I can shove this paper in your face,” said Galadjian.
The company is not returning as Millenium. Just today, in fact, Galadjian was issued a new PUC permit under the name Fox Limos.
He got a new CHP inspection last month — and he got a conditional rating of “Approval.” It’s all perfectly legal.
We also met with Jacob, a driver with another limo service — this time a big ten-seater stretch.
“Hi, are you Jacob? Nice to meet you.”
Jacob drives for A2A Limos. Goldstein found them on Craigslist. Their website says they’re “The best limo service in LA.”
Unfortunately, according to the PUC they don’t have a license.
The website is registered to a man who also owns Rent A Limo USA. Their license was suspended because of no insurance.
He’s asked if it’s safe to operate. “Of course.”
Jacob said it was safe but didn’t have much to say to Goldstein.
Jacob is told “there’s no PUC license number on the back.” He replies, “It’s coming, I guess.” Jacob asks if he can call his boss.
The limo is not licensed. Goldstein says, “There’s no license plate. Where’s your guy?”
Jacob’s boss called and didn’t have answers. Goldstein asks him about a license and “hello, hello?” The boss hung up.
These are just two of hundreds of limo companies we found on the PUC website that have had their licenses suspended or revoked. There’s no telling how many may still be in business under other names.
The PUC says they try to enforce the regulations but refused to provide someone to do an on-camera interview.
They suggest checking on their website to look up limo licenses — before you are taken for a ride. Click here for that link.
–David Goldstein, CBS2 News