Boston’s biggest taxi owner, under criminal investigation and facing a multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit, is seeking to sell more than half his cab empire — an estimated $120 million divestiture that the city’s top police official is promising to block.
Edward Tutunjian intends to file court papers Monday asking judicial approval for the sale of up to 200 of his 372 city-issued medallions — or licenses — for at least $600,000 apiece. The sale would be to “an owner or owners who would make positive contributions to the Boston taxi system,’’ a spokesman for Tutunjian said in a prepared statement.
But Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, after learning about the pending sale from the Globe, said: “My recommendation is to stop any large transfer of medallions from Mr. Tutunjian due to the ongoing investigation. We want to make sure that he is not trying to walk away from his responsibilities to taxi drivers.” Under state law and city regulations, Davis has virtually unlimited authority to stop the sale.
Tutunjian was the focus of a Globe Spotlight Team investigation earlier this year documenting how many taxi drivers feel pressured to pay his staff petty bribes to get keys to taxis that they lease for about $100 for a 12-hour shift. The Globe reported that drivers are often told to make up phantom shortfalls that they cannot dispute because they do not receive receipts — a violation of city regulations that police have routinely ignored.
A federal criminal investigation into those practices is underway.
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