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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBC Charlotte I-Team has learned that an uptown power broker linked to the Patrick Cannon corruption scandal has wielded influence for years over certain key city appointments.

Mohammed Jenatian is the president of the Greater Charlotte Hospitality and Tourism Alliance known to most simply as the HTA. Jenatian is a close ally of ex-mayor Patrick Cannon, who served on the HTA Board of Directors as the owner and operator of E-Z Parking.

The Charlotte Observer has reported that Jenatian introduced Patrick Cannon to the undercover FBI agent, who later claimed to have bribed him with tens of thousands of dollars in cash, plus a trip to Las Vegas and the use of a luxury SouthPark apartment.

The NBC Charlotte I-Team has obtained a document that shows how the HTA, and Jenatian as its president, wielded power over appointments to the board that licenses limos and taxicabs known as the Passenger Vehicle For Hire or PVH board.

That all may sound like so much boring government bureaucracy unless you make money in the taxi business. The 11 member PVH board gives licenses and it takes them away so it can make or break a cab or limo company or a driver.

Under the city code, the board is supposed to be appointed by the mayor (3 names), city manager (3 names), and city council (5 names). That s how our representative democracy is supposed to work. We voters elect the mayor and council. The mayor and council appoint the Manager and the PVH (taxi) board.

But a document dated October 2010 clearly lists three of the 11 PVH Board Members as HTA REP. Three more members were also HTA members at the time. So a clear majority of the taxi licensing board six of 11 votes were nominated or members of Jenetian s group the HTA.

City spokesman Keith Richardson disputes this saying the phrase HTA REP was added by an administrator of the taxi board and was one of several errors on the list. Board member Ed Ferris was listed as an HTA REP but told NBC Charlotte he had never heard of the HTA and did not represent the Alliance or the hospitality industry.

The HTA affiliation to the taxicab licensing board raises eyebrows because of a series of Pay-to-play allegations in the Charlotte s taxicab industry.

In 2011 when a lucrative taxicab contract at the Charlotte Douglas Airport was up for bid the operators of two companies, Checker and Universal, both claimed that Mohammed Jenatian guaranteed them spots at the airport if they would join HTA at the $5,000 level. Jenatian did not return phone calls today but has consistently denied this in the past adding that he did not have the authority to award the contract.

Since Mayor Cannon was arrested by the FBI, two cab company operators, Muhammed Moustafa at Universal Cab and Naheed Kashmary at Royal Cab, both stepped forward to say that a middleman, Zack Kacho, also offered them a chance to get back their taxicab spots at Charlotte Douglas Airport for $10,000 in cash for city council members including Cannon. Both companies say they refused.

Patrick Cannon chaired the Public Safety Committee when he was a member of Charlotte s City Council, which controlled taxicabs and the Passenger Vehicle for Hire Board.


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