NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS Sources confirm that Yellow Cab the largest taxi company in North Texas is now under investigation by the federal government for issues uncovered in an ongoing News 8 investigation.
Under a federal contract, Yellow Cab was paid to transport Medicaid patients to and from doctor's appointments. Sources say the United States Attorney from the Eastern District of Texas wants to know if Yellow defrauded taxpayers by violating a key safety provision of that contract.
During a recent four-year period, records show the parent company of Yellow collected $82 million transporting Medicaid patients.
However, records also show that drivers for the parent company of Yellow Cab did not have proper insurance required to transport patients in the first place.
'An investigator with the Department of Justice contacted me right after she had seen one of your stories,' said Kelly Hollingsworth, an attorney who represents small taxi companies that compete with Yellow Cab.
Hollingsworth is one of three parties featured in News 8 reports who say they have been contacted by an investigator from the Department of Justice.
The family of Maria Vazquez is one of them, confirms their attorney George Boll. Under Yellow's contract to carry Medicaid patients, Vazquez was being driven to a doctor's appointment in 2012 by a subcontractor working for the parent company of Yellow. She died from injuries sustained in a wreck that day.
The driver admitted that he failed to buckle Vazquez in.
'The way that she was screaming... just screaming that she did not want anybody to touch her legs,' her son Cipriano Vazquez told News 8 in November.
The family contends Yellow carried no insurance to protect injured parties from wrecks like the one that killed Vazquez, even though the Medicaid contract required $750,000 of coverage.
The Vazquez family is suing Yellow for damages.
Hollingsworth said that's part of the line of questioning now being asked by a federal investigator.
'I was told by the DOJ investigator that it was criminal,' he said.
Vazquez' attorney said the government is also asking about misuse of sub-contractors by Yellow. The family alleges Yellow essentially created shell companies around its employees to get around Medicaid regulations and protect Yellow from the liability of serious wrecks, like Vazquez' death.
A lawyer for Yellow said he is unaware of the investigation, but said the company will fully cooperate if asked.
A representative for the U.S. Attorney's office said she would not comment on an ongoing investigation.