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SANTA MONICA : Taxi Firm Convicted of Operating in L.A. Without Permit

March 17, 1994|DAMITA J. QUASHIE

The growing problem of illegal cabdrivers operating in Los Angeles was highlighted last week with the conviction of a Santa Monica company that dispatched a taxi into Los Angeles without a permit.

Best Service Co. and its president and chief financial officer, Mehdi Charmchi, 27, had been charged with three counts of operating without a Los Angeles franchise and proper permits, said Ted Goldstein, a spokesman for the Los Angeles city attorney's office. A municipal judge ordered Charmchi to pay a $13,510 fine after he pleaded no contest.

Los Angeles requires taxi permits to ensure that drivers have insurance and their cabs meet safety standards. Some illegal cabdrivers have been found to take advantage of patrons, Goldstein said.

"Some are ruses for taking patrons on rides where they find themselves robbed and stranded," he said.

The city Department of Transportation estimates that illegal cab operations have more than doubled in the last five years, from 400 to about 1,000.

The transportation department began investigating Best Service, also known as Best Yellow Cab, in 1992 after receiving complaints from licensed cabdrivers.

Investigators posing as patrons conducted stings from Nov. 4, 1992, to Oct. 29, 1993.

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