Kempner was sentenced to a year’s probation and ordered to pay a $12,500 fine. Yet hackney officials continued to deem him “suitable.’’
In 2009, Kempner sold 26 medallions to Tutunjian for $362,500 apiece, or more than $9.4 million. Today, he still benefits from one medallion, which is registered under the name of his wife.
But despite the sorry behavior of some medallion owners, neither Cohen nor other hackney officials could recall ever stripping a license from its owner.
“To my knowledge, we have never revoked a medallion,’’ Cohen said.
He does, however, insist that those who seek to buy medallions are carefully checked before their licenses are approved.
“We make sure that that sale is to a suitable person as best we can,’’ he said.
The claim is hard to square with the handling of the application of one Victoria Rose Crisafulli who was officially listed in 1998 as the sole officer, director, and shareholder of Seventh St. Taxi Inc., a company that controlled medallions purchased by fleet owner Anthony Ilacqua Sr.
Who was Victoria Rose Crisafulli? No one, it would seem.
“No person by that name exists,’’ a Suffolk Superior Court judge ruled in 2008 in an Ilacqua family legal dispute.
According to court papers, Ilacqua was present when his son Steven signed the official corporate documents in the name of Victoria Rose Crisafulli. Steven’s daughter is Victoria Rose Ilacqua. Her mother’s maiden name was Crisafulli.
At the time she was approved to own a medallion, Victoria Rose was all of 10 months old. And she remained the owner of record for the next five years as Ilacqua enlisted family members to serve as “straw’’ owners of his taxi corporations to limit his insurance liability.
Hackney’s see-no-evil habits when it comes to policing medallion owners make the rare exceptions to that pattern stand out.
The treatment of Sheila Corbin is one of those telling cases.
Corbin, a Boston native who taught in a city middle school before relocating to the Pacific Northwest, inherited two medallions from her father that yield $1,000 a week from drivers who lease them.
In 2006, Corbin filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court alleging that Jeffrey Morrill, who was then managing her medallions, had “negligently and willfully failed to report accidents, [or to] fill out required insurance accident reports in a timely fashion, and deliberately hired drivers that were reckless.’’
Corbin said that as a result of Morrill’s action, her insurance rates skyrocketed by $30,000. Morrill, the son of Menino’s friend Paul Morrill, is a Massachusetts state trooper.
In court, Corbin represented herself, while Morrill was accompanied by his attorney. Also in attendance was then-hackney Lieutenant Ciccolo, a top enforcer of the city’s taxi regulations.
Morrill’s lawyer argued that his client was not responsible for the dramatic increase in insurance costs. The judge at first suggested mediation as a way to settle the dispute. But then Ciccolo chimed in. He said it was Corbin’s duty, not Morrill’s, to ensure that drivers were operating safely.
“I would be submitting this to a board of three captains who would rule on whether or not she’s a suitable person to own a taxi medallion due to her violation of the rules,’’ Ciccolo told the judge, according to the court transcript.
In short order, Corbin surrendered.
“My back’s against the wall,’’ she told the judge. “If I’m going to lose everything, then I guess I wouldn’t push it any further.’’
Ciccolo, through a department spokeswoman, said when he learned of the lawsuit “he felt it appropriate to notify the individuals about the department’s rule on payment of insurance costs.’’
Repeated attempts to reach Morrill were unsuccessful. He now owns four medallions worth nearly $2.5 million.
A spokesman for the Massachusetts State Police said the department was not aware that Morrill owned taxi medallions — licenses for commercial vehicles often policed by state troopers — until a Globe query.
David Procopio, the State Police spokesman, said Morrill’s involvement in the taxi business “is not authorized by the department’’ — a finding Morrill is disputing. “Our legal section will reiterate our position to Trooper Morrill,’’ Procopio said earlier this month.
Three drivers for every cab
It is a flimsy piece of tin literally worth much, much more than its weight in gold — the medallion number screwed into the rear of each of the city’s 1,825 taxicabs.
The number of medallions has risen only modestly from the 1,525 licenses the city had authorized in 1934. And this strict limit on supply has been a ticket to El Dorado for longtime owners.Continued...