CORRECTION as of Friday, May 27, 2011:
In several website postings on WCNC.com, the criminal records of the two individuals who are part owners of Kashmary Enterprises, which owns King Cab company, were inaccurately reflected. The postings should have reflected that Javed Kashmary served almost three months in federal prison in Beckley, W.V., for identification document fraud, and that Naheed Kashmary served 14 months in federal prison in Gilmer, W.V., for transaction structuring, a financial crime. Naheed Kashmary did not plead guilty to any charge regarding the purchase a fake driver's license. WCNC regrets this error.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The aviation director at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is recommending that a taxicab company run by two men who went to federal prison be awarded a lucrative contract.
Aviation Director Jerry Orr says he didn't know about the felony records of Javed and Naheed Kashmary when a selection committee picked their proposal in November. The pair own two-thirds interest in Kashmary Enterprises, the operator of King Cab and Royal Cab.
But Orr says the records do not change his recommendation that the company receive one of three contracts to operate taxicabs at Charlotte/Douglas.
"That the company violated laws and paid the price for that, I don't think is a security issue," said Orr.
Javed and Naheed Kashmary pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Charlotte in 2007.
King/Royal is one of 12 cab companies operating at Charlotte/Douglas. The airport wants to reduce the number to three - a move that would improve customer service, Orr has said.
One aviation security expert said the convictions raise questions about how well the airport vetted the company.
"It's surprising that the city would do that," said Andrew Thomas, a professor of the University of Akron who is the editor of the Journal of Transportation Security. "Did they consult with the Transportation Security Administration? What risk-management practices will be in place to deal with this?"
He said that taxi drivers have better access to the airport than most people. If a driver were to have a fake license, it would raise questions about whether that driver should be working there, Thomas said.
Security at Charlotte/Douglas has been under scrutiny since November, when a 16-year-old boy apparently stowed away inside the wheel well of a US Airways jet. The mangled body of Delvonte Tisdale was found near Boston Logan airport, and Massachusetts detectives believe he fell from the plane when the landing gear was lowered.
Charlotte/Douglas did not run criminal background checks as part of the taxicab companies' request for proposals. That job went to Charlotte's Passenger Vehicle for Hire manager, Burhan Al-Shaikh. The Passenger Vehicle for Hire office is part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.
When first asked about the Kashmary brothers, Al-Shaikh said they did not have felony records.
However, an attorney for the Passenger Vehicle for Hire Board, Mujeeb Shah-Khan, said the Kashmary brothers disclosed their criminal history on their application for city taxicab permits.
After WCNC-TV raised questions about the Kashmarys' criminal record, Shah-Khan said Javed and Naheed Kashmary surrendered their taxi driver's permits. The Kashmarys retained their permits to operate a cab company.
Thomas Windsor, an attorney for the Kashmarys, said their company has "serviced the airport under various contracts for several years and has rendered professional service while doing it. ... This company has nothing but good marks by its name."
Charlotte's city ordinance bars convicted felons from holding taxicab driver permits unless their record is expunged. But the city ordinance permits operators convicted of certain felonies to retain their owners' permits.
A four-person selection committee recommended King/Royal and two other companies for the contracts: Crown Cab and Taxi USA. Taxi drivers at other companies say they will lose money because the airport is an important part of the taxi business.
The Charlotte City Council could vote on the three contracts at its Monday meeting.
When Javed Kashmary was asked about his criminal record outside a meeting of the PVH board, he first said: "I have no criminal record."
When asked about time spent in federal prison, Javed Kashmary then responded, "It's past. It's gone. Whatever."
Javed Kashmary served almost three months in federal prison in Beckley, W.V., for identification document fraud, according to court records and the US Bureau of Prisons.
His brother, Naheed Kashmary, served 14 months in federal prison in Gilmer, W.V., for "transaction structuring," a financial crime associated with sending cash outside of the country without legally reporting it.
Orr said the Kashmary brothers presented one of the best proposals for taxicab service and he would continue to recommend them to the City Council.
King/Royal said it could provide $550,000 a year to the airport from permit fees and a charge based on the number of trips from the airport.
"They are a licensed taxicab company by PVH in the city of Charlotte," Orr said.
The selection committee included Orr; Tim Newman, chief executive of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority; Andrew Riolo of the airport advisory committee; and Maj. Tim Danchess of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.