A.G. Underwood Seeks Contempt Ruling Against Morrisonville Cab Operator For Deceptive And Exploitative Practices Targeting Refugees Fleeing The U.S.

News from the New York Attorney General's Office 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 21, 2018

Attorney General's Office Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov

A.G. UNDERWOOD SEEKS CONTEMPT RULING AGAINST MORRISONVILLE CAB OPERATOR FOR DECEPTIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE PRACTICES TARGETING REFUGEES FLEEING THE U.S.

Northern Taxi Continues to Engage in Deceptive Practices and Price Gouging Against Vulnerable Refugees Fleeing Across the Border Into Canada – Charging More than the Maximum Allowable Fare and Refusing to Provide a Rate in Advance

If Owner and Operator is Found in Contempt, He Could Face Penalties, Fines, and/or Up to 6 Months in Jail

MORRISONVILLE – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced that she filed a motion for civil and criminal contempt against Northern Taxi and its owner and operator, Christopher Crowningshield, for continuing to violate state and local laws, in violation of a prior court order, by charging as much as $100 per person for a taxi ride from Plattsburgh to Canadian border.

“Immigrant communities are scared – and it’s unconscionable to try to take advantage of that fear in order to make a quick buck,” said Attorney General Underwood. “Anyone who suspects that they’re the victim of a scam or price gouging should immediately contact our office.” 

Crowningshield is prohibited by the court order from charging more than $92.50 for trips to the border, regardless of the number of passengers. However, investigators from the Attorney General’s office determined that Crowningshield routinely charges $100 per passenger, even when there are multiple passengers in a vehicle. 

Investigators also found that Crowningshield is continuing to violate state law, and the terms of the prior court order, by failing to conspicuously post fares in each vehicle. A core purpose of the taxicab rate-posting law is to keep unscrupulous operators from taking advantage of vulnerable individuals. Crowningshield is also violating the court order by failing to maintain a log of fares received from all passengers, failing to tender receipts to passengers, and failing to telephone the Attorney General’s office with specified information – including the number of passengers and the total fare being charged – prior to travel to the border. Crowningshield has also paid only $1,000 of the $2,500 in costs and penalties due to the Attorney General.

If Crowningshield is found in contempt, he could be ordered to pay civil penalties and criminal fines and/or be sentenced to up to six months in jail.

The criminal contempt charges are merely accusations and the respondent is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

In 2017, the Attorney General’s office, having heard troubling reports that Plattsburgh-area taxicab drivers were taking advantage of refugees fleeing the United States for Canada, commenced an investigation into the procedures of local taxi companies. In addition to the court order that was obtained against Northern Taxi, settlement agreements were reached with C & L Taxi and Town Taxi and Medical Transport, Inc.

This case was handled by Glen Michaels, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Plattsburgh Regional Office, under the direction of Gary Brown, Acting Executive Deputy Attorney General for the Division of Regional Offices. Investigative work was carried out by Investigator Robert Pompey-Goodman and Investigator Crystal Combs of the Attorney General’s Investigations Division, under the supervision of Investigator Harry Czosnykowski, Investigator Ken Peters, and Deputy Chief Investigator Jonathan Wood.

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