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Cab company owners say they'll sue the city - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

Cab company owners say they'll sue the city

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Frank Hinson used to own Checker Cab, but after City Council members decided in 2011 to limit taxi access at the airport, Checker Cab was banned from picking up passengers there, and Hinson eventually lost the company. Hinson blames the city, and now he says he'll sue for damages.

"I don't have much choice other than to file a suit because they put me in that position," he says. "I did not ever want to sue my city, I'm from Charlotte."

The decision to reduce the number of companies with full access to the airport was controversial on its own, but then cab owners started to complain that the selection process was rigged. Hinson said a man from a local lobbying group offered him a chance to buy his way back into Charlotte Douglas.

"He was smart enough not to say where the money would go," Hinson said.

But now The Charlotte Observer says an FBI investigator working the case against ex-mayor Patrick Cannon is looking into the bribery claims from taxi cab owners. Mohammad Moustafa owns Universal Cab. He says several people approached him for money too, and he says one pointed right to Cannon.

"He said if you give me $10,000 - even after July, after I was already out of the airport - if you want to get back, if you give me $10,000 I can assure you, you'll get to the airport," Moustafa said. "It's going to go to Patrick Cannon, that's exactly what he said. Patrick Cannon and some other city counselors.

"Cannon, in my opinion, was not alone," added Hinson. "And I hope that they get everybody who was involved in it."

Like Hinson, Moustaffa says he's preparing to sue the city.  "Very shortly," he said. "We are working on it."

The city's communications director says he had not heard about any impending lawsuits until we contacted him today. He had no comment beyond that.

We also reached out to Cannon's lawyer, but did not hear back from him.

Cannon was arrested in March on charges of bribery and extortion, but he has not been indicted.

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