Cabbies with criminal records can continue driving, depending on the crime

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) - Former cab driver Mahad Abdinoor Abdi reportedly threatened to chop off the heads of police officers in June.  That`s according to police reports that led to assault charges against Abdi.  The St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC) revoked his taxi license that same moth.  But Abdi got a license several years ago, despite a record of at least eight previous arrests.

We found him driving a marked cab on his revoked cab license.  When we tipped MTC, investigators caught up with Abdi and seized his license plates.  Yet Abdi drove off in the van that still had the marking from the cab company that fired him.  Wilson Taxi`s owner told us, 'It`s very dangerous.  I think it`s dangerous to the public and it`s dangerous to our company also, because we actually have this name on our car.'

However Wilson defended another cabbie we found with a criminal record.  Melesse Gelete assaulted three police officers in 2001.  Wilson told us, 'I think a person deserves a second chance and I`m not the person who does the true hiring.  The taxi cab commission does. I just approve it through my company.'

MTC lawyer Neil Bruntrager says state law requires regulators to give second chances.  He explained, 'If it`s an old conviction, if it`s a misdemeanor, those sorts of things while they are looked at, basically under the chance law you sort of have to look past them.'

Gelete`s assault convictions were misdemeanors because the police officers were not seriously injured, despite falling down flights of stairs.  Gelete remains working on his green card.

Bruntrager added, 'That is sort of interesting because he`s not just overseen by what we do, because we review licenses once a year. You`ve got to come in once a year and renew it. They`re also looked at by the immigration services. So again if you commit an offense that`s serious enough, the immigration will pull your card.'

It was a lack of cab insurance that cab customer Edward Domain says he`s still paying for after riding a Harris Cab in 2013.  Domain said, 'The cab driver was texting, blew through a red light, we got hit by a van and I wound up in the hospital for six months. The left side of my pelvis was destroyed. For the last two years I`ve had surgeries. I think I`m up to 11. I`ve lost count.'  All while battling the cab company in court.  Court records showed the cab`s insurance carrier 'refused to authorize coverage for...' nearly a dozen cabs, including the one Domain rode.

Domain said, 'I did get a very small settlement from the insurance company, even though they were not insured and here`s why. My attorney said if Harris cab had had insurance, the policy would have been $200,000 which I would have gotten.  Then there would`ve been punitive damages on top of that.'

Bruntrager said MTC records show Harris was insured and the problem was a dispute between the insurance carrier and the cab company about the policies of certain vehicles coming and going.

Bruntrager said, 'While we had in place a number of things that would give us information about whether or not the taxi company`s insurance was in place, we want to make sure that that is a place where there are no gaps that anything can fall between.  So again we`re looking at that coverage, making sure their notice to us is better.'

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