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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -
After the previous two reports on a wedding day disaster and a nightmarish homecoming trip, more consumers have reached out to the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women with limo concerns.
FOX 8 has learned frightening new limo details, and that the man behind the company is a convicted felon who is currently wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.
'Badbuses.com'.. 'New Orleans Trash'.. And 'Only in New Orleans.'
Even more consumers have reached out to the FOX 8 Defenders to investigate, complaining they too didn't get what they say they were promised.
In May, what appeared to be that same yellow and black 'trash' school bus pulled up to transport a group of Lafourche Parish teens to their high school dance. Again, they say it's not what they paid for.
In April, Julie Arabie says she ordered a white stretch limo for her daughter's senior prom in Thibodaux. She says the vehicle that arrived more than an hour late was far from the top of the line transport she requested.
"The AC wasn't working. The car kept on killing on them, at least six times on the side of the road. The lights inside didn't work. The headlight was burned," explained Arabie. She said the teens finally made it to prom around 10 p.m., but it was all over and everybody was leaving.
The six-hour trip they paid $900 for got cut in half. Arabie says the driver was worried the limo would stop running.
"I cried. I was very upset. This is the last high school dance they'll ever go to," she explained. Plus, Arabie says the company she booked it through, Louisiana Limousine Inc., never gave them a refund.
All four of these trips have something in common. The website badbuses.com appeared on three of the buses, and the consumer email reservation for the stretch limo is from the same Louisiana Limousine email address and phone number as the local bride's wedding day 'bad bus.'
FOX 8 searched the La. Secretary of State's website and found several registered limousine companies with similar names, but no listing for 'Louisiana Limousine, Inc.'
Then, FOX 8 searched the phone number (504-347-4444) that some of the consumers used to contact Louisiana Limousine, Inc. and found several other limo companies advertising that same number, including badbuses.com.
"That is rather peculiar. I'm not sure if it's illegal, but it is, in some cases, a way to confuse the consumer," said Cynthia Albert with the Better Business Bureau.
The websites advertise big beautiful fleets, but no school buses. None of those sites lists a physical address.
FOX 8 discovered a location on Fourth Street in Marrero. Behind a locked fence was, what appeared to be, the same red and black school bus that showed up on the local couple's wedding day. The facade of the building says 'Limousine Service,' and that same phone number on Louisiana Limousine's website.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission, which regulates limos and buses, said: "Louisiana Limousine, Inc. (or any of the names listed on those websites) do not have LPSC authority to operate."
"We established an all new set of standards for small buses, limousines and taxi cabs, including age of the vehicle, including quality of the conditions. We have a state passenger bill of rights," said Eric Skrmetta, Public Service Commissioner, District 1. "We also require insurance and inspection of the vehicle."
However, FOX 8 has highlighted four consumer examples where the vehicles in Marrero, in Jefferson Parish, transported passengers all across the region without the proper motor carrier license according to the PSC.
In 2011, passengers were transported from St. Charles Parish to Orleans. This year, passengers were transported from St. Tammany to Orleans, and there are at least two examples in Lafourche Parish. In April, a stretch limo transported teens in Thibodaux, and last month, that bad 'trash bus' in Raceland.
"I absolutely know what his face looks like. I know his voice," said Jacque' DeLoach. She says she'll never forget the bus driver who dropped off her daughter and more than 30 other teenagers 10 blocks away from their first stop.
"I can definitely pick out Sean Lewis," she said.
"That's who I was working for," said a former limo driver. This former driver, who asked not to be identified, confirms the man behind the bad buses and limos is Sean Lewis. When he worked for Lewis, he says Lewis operated under a different company name.
"Millionaire's Only. I worked for them approximately three years, over in Marrero" he said.
When FOX 8 asked him about the phone number to Millionaire's Only Limousine, he confirmed the same number of 504-347-4444 that several consumers used to book recent limo trips.
Jefferson Parish confirms Sean Lewis had - at one time - occupational licenses for both 'Millionaire's Only' and a company called 'Bourbon Street Limos,' both at an address on Westwood Drive in Marrero.
That's the same address that Jefferson Parish Sheriff's deputies and a SWAT team zeroed in on in 2011 after an emergency 911 hangup call at Lewis' home.
Deputies say they spotted Lewis with a handgun. His mother and a child fled the home after an argument with Lewis escalated. Sean Lewis was arrested for aggravated assault. That charge was later upgraded to a felony, aggravated assault with a firearm. He eventually pled guilty and served 24 months probation.
When we showed DeLoach Sean Lewis' mug shot, she said, "I know that was Sean Lewis I dealt with that day," referring to the bus driver who transported the St. Charles teens in 2011.
DeLoach, like other moms, worries something tragic could have happened to their children in those vehicles.
"It was horrible. It was a nightmare. I was so glad when I got them safe home," said Arabie.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office confirms there's an outstanding arrest warrant out for 34-year-old Sean Lewis for auto theft. FOX 8 tried calling the business phone number for comment, but the man who answered told us there was no one there by that name.
The Public Service Commission says it's limited to civil action only when dealing with motor carrier companies, but says it has the ability to work with local sheriff's and DA's offices to effect criminal charges.
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Tuesday, August 19 2014 4:53 PM EDT2014-08-19 20:53:02 GMT
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