LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A CBS2 hidden camera investigation has found disabled parking spots filled at LAX with private car service vehicles, but are drivers taking advantage of the prime parking spaces?
Investigative Reporter David Goldstein caught up with some of the drivers seen lifting suitcases, loading them into the luxury vehicles and seemingly walking with ease to and from LAX while chauffeuring passengers.
Goldstein found these car service drivers parking in spots reserved for the disabled and hanging disabled placards on the rear-view mirror, making it official.
David Goldstein: “Are you disabled?”
The spaces are considered prime parking at the airport as they are just a short distance from the terminals to make it easier for the disabled.
But, as Goldstein reports, it seems some car service drivers may be taking advantage of the spaces.
CBS2 set up hidden cameras at Parking Lot 6 at LAX and saw dozens of car service drivers using the disabled spots, then walking to and from their cars without any apparent disability.
In one incident, one driver was seen picking up two large pieces of luggage from the carousel, then loading them into his SUV parked in the disabled spot.
CBS2 saw this again and again, as did Jerry Lehman of Buena Park, who has multiple sclerosis and needs to park in a disabled space. He says that without the availability of a disabled spot, he’d have to leave.
A few months ago, when Lehman loaded his wheelchair into his truck and pulled himself in to drive to LAX to pick up his grandkids, he found all the disabled spots at Lot 6 full, many with car service vehicles and drivers carrying luggage.
“There was at one point, I did ask one guy, he was directly next to me. He’s getting out of his car. I was sarcastic and said, ‘You know, I’m really sure glad you were able to get that spot because obviously you need it.’ Well, he kind of flipped me off and walked away and that was it,” Lehman said.
“You think they’re just taking advantage of the system,” Goldstein asked.
“Definitely, definitely,” said Lehman, who had emailed CBS2 to investigate.
CBS2 captured this man, identified as Sam Yagubyan with Modern Limousine Service, parking in a disabled spot on two days. On one occasion, he parked his luxury GMC Yukon not only in a spot tagged with the blue wheelchair symbol but one also reserved for electric vehicles.
CBS2 checked with the DMV, and the placard is registered in his name.
But CBS2 watched him load luggage in the back of the SUV, walk through the airport with a client and even walk around his house seemingly without any problem.
When CBS2 caught up with him, he admitted he was familiar with our investigations.
Sam Yagubyan: “I’ve seen every single program of yours.”
But, as Goldstein reports, he wasn’t forthcoming about his disability.
David Goldstein: “What is your disability? We’ve seen you walking at the airport, carrying luggage.”
Sam Yagubyan: “Yeah, I could carry luggage, but I’m still disabled.”
David Goldstein: “What’s your disability?”
Sam Yagubyan: “I don’t know. You tell me what’s my disability.”
David Goldstein: “I’m asking you. I don’t know. You tell me.”
Sam Yagubyan: “I don’t need to tell you anything.”
Yagubyan eventually said he had a leg injury.
David Goldstein: “You look great.”
Sam Yagubyan: “I know I look great.”
David Goldstein: “You’re walking just fine.”
Sam Yagubyan: “But my leg hurts.”
But Yagubyan admitted that maybe he shouldn’t qualify for a disabled placard.
“Probably not ’cause even if my leg hurts, I can manage to walk around where some people are in wheelchairs that are going to have a harder time getting from their car to wherever they’re going,” he said.
CBS2 wanted to show our findings to the DMV, but they refused an on-camera interview.
However, a spokesperson for the DMV sent CBS2 an email, saying: “The DMV considers crimes relating to disabled placards very serious, and every complaint of this nature will be reviewed.”
The DMV, however, has no control over medical professionals who sign off on placards.