Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photography Office
“This report shines a light on many of the predatory practices of the broker industry,” Mayor de Blasio said.
By Forum Staff
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday announced the findings of his 45-day investigation into the practices and policies of taxicab medallion brokers. The joint Taxi & Limousine Commission, Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and Department of Finance probe of brokers licensed by the City to assist clients in the buying or selling of taxicab medallions was ordered by Hizzoner following allegations of broker misconduct.
Among the actions taken by the administration is the arrest of Anthony Medina, a Staten Island man accused of impersonating a city marshal in order to repossess taxi cabs and medallions from unsuspecting taxi owners.
Medina was cuffed on Tuesday, July 2, by the Sheriff’s Department outside of his home and charged with four separate counts of criminal impersonation of a city marshal. For at least three years and across four boroughs, Medina allegedly impersonated a marshal to help him seize vehicles, medallions, and rate cards from owners who were allegedly in default to private lenders.
According to the administration, the Sheriff’s Department was able to confirm at least three different episodes where Medina, allegedly while impersonating a marshal, harassed cabdrivers, including an incident where Medina allegedly broke into a taxi in Queens last May, removed a medallion, rate card and meter, and left a false notice of seizure. After the medallion owner paid his debt, Medina, again allegedly impersonating a marshal, intimidated the man while returning the medallion, rate card and meter, telling him not to tell TLC that the medallion had been removed.
De Blasio noted that during the investigation into the practices and policies of medallion brokers, TLC, DCWP, and DOF staff reviewed 5,513 pages of records, conducted and analyzed a survey of drivers who own their medallions, and held outreach events in each of the five boroughs. The investigation provided insight into the City’s 20 licensed taxi brokers’ business practices, including:
• TLC rules require brokers prepare documents summarizing loan and purchase agreement terms, as well as disclose any interests they may have in medallion transfers. The investigation revealed that in many cases the required documentation and disclosures brokers provide their clients were often confusing and were not easily understandable to potential purchasers. Documents were not provided in any language other than English, in an industry where more than 95 percent of taxi drivers are immigrants.
• Although brokers frequently help drivers negotiate a loan for the medallion purchase, brokers fail to adequately explain the terms of these loans to their clients. The investigation found a majority of surveyed drivers who used a broker reported they did not have a clear understanding of their loan agreements.
• Brokers did not consistently use written broker agreements. Less than half the records provided included these agreements. Following the recommendations of the report, written agreements will now be required, the mayor pledged.
“This report shines a light on many of the predatory practices of the broker industry and with this new insight, we’ll be able to do even more to help taxi drivers too long taken advantage of by those they trusted for guidance and help,” de Blasio added.
To read the full 18-page report, visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/tlc/businesses/broker-enforcement.page.