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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NewsChannel 36 I-team is digging up new details about a pair of local cab companies being investigated by the FBI. Agents want to know if they took your tax dollars for work that was never done. We've learned the FBI inquiry could delay a controversial airport taxi deal.

Two cab companies, Crown Cab and Prestige Taxicab, billed taxpayers for more than $5 million in one year alone. Most of the money was paid for Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services clients to get to health care appointments.

The I-Team obtained documents that showed several drivers for Crown Cab billed for trips they did not make. Mayur Khandalwal of Crown Cab declined comment on camera but sent us a statement saying, We installed a pretty sophisticated GPS-based program that would detect driver fraud, and we think that curtailed the problem. In the meantime, we were very open with DSS and cooperated to make sure that they were not paying for rides that did not occur.

DSS director Mary Wilson also sent a statement saying her department was on guard to look for red flags indicating fraud. Former U.S. Attorney Tom Ashcraft, who first looked into the millions spent on DSS taxicabs as a conservative activist, isn't satisfied.

I do not have confidence in the management of Mecklenburg County, he said. Mecklenburg County is bloated, wasteful and poorly managed, and yet they're still going to raise the property taxes.

On the city council side, Crown Cab is one of only three companies recommended for a lucrative and controversial contract at Charlotte Douglas airport. But city councilman Andy Dulin says news of the FBI investigation could change that. This whole process has brought up more questions than answers and I'm about fed up with it, he said.

Charlotte city council was expected to vote as early as Monday on the airport taxicab contract. But this latest revelation of an FBI investigation could delay that. The I-Team repeatedly called and visited Prestige Taxicab on N. Tryon to try to get a comment. Prestige owner Zebene Mesele did not return our calls.

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