The subject of our ongoing FOX 8 Defenders limo investigation has been arrested. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office tells FOX 8 that 34-year-old Sean Lewis of Marrero turned himself in on an outstanding arrest warrant for theft and forgery. From there, St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's detectives confirm they arrested Lewis in connection with harassing phone calls by making threats. Lewis allegedly threatened another business owner's life. He posted bond and was released the same day.
In our series of investigative reports, we uncovered that Lewis has been operating a questionable limo company, advertising limos and limo buses online, but then showing up with old school buses to transport passengers.
"It makes me mad that this company is able to do this to people," said a local bride.
We also exposed the fact that Lewis' companies, which operate under many names, don't have the authority to transport passengers, according to the Louisiana Public Service Commission. That means the state is not inspecting Lewis' vehicles, and consumers have no way of knowing whether they're safe or carrying the proper insurance.
Public Service Commissioner for District 1, Eric Skrmetta, said the PSC's state and district offices are working together to take civil action.
"What we're looking at is the fact that this has crossed the line into potentially criminal action, and we are working with the district attorney's offices in St. Tammany, Jefferson Parish, St. Charles Parish to organize with them," Skrmetta said.
As we mentioned, Lewis has ties to many limo companies, two of which kept coming up in our investigation.
In 2011, Jacque' DeLoach reserved a luxury party bus for her daughter's high school homecoming dance in St. Charles Parish, but what showed up was an old black and yellow school bus with the words "New Orleans Trash" and "badbuses.com" on the side of it.
Harvey-based company Ball Entertainment was later cited and fined $1,000 for operating across parish lines without the proper license by the PSC. Fast forward nearly three years, and the PSC confirms that fine has not been collected. "Unfortunately, there is a long line of people getting fined, and it just takes awhile to get to the process to get to," said Skrmetta.
We talked to Chad Baxter, an officer or agent of Ball Entertainment, earlier this summer by phone, and he told FOX 8 he didn't pay the fine because he "didn't do the job" and was adamant that the black and yellow school bus was not his.
The PSC has petitioned Jefferson Parish 2nd District Court for the ability to seize fines from Ball Entertainment. "To make it executory is to put it into civil law ex parte that we can go into a seizure order to go and seize bank accounts ... or property sufficient to satisfy the fine," Skrmetta said.
Skrmetta said his office is also moving forward with issuing a citation, essentially a ticket, to Bourbon Street Limos, another company we've exposed, for breaking state law and not registering with the Public Service Commission. "We don't know if they have adequate insurance. We don't know the background of the drivers," he explained.
According to the Secretary of State, a Linda Lewis is the registered agent of Bourbon Street Limos at an address on 4th Street in Marrero that we've become very familiar with. It's the same address where we found what appears to be these same old school buses.
"We believe at this point ... it's the possibility of ... it's Ms. Lewis' son," said Skrmetta.
Linda Lewis' son, Sean Lewis, at one time had an occupational license with Jefferson Parish for Bourbon Street Limos, according to the parish. Remember, Sean Lewis' Louisiana Limousine Inc. and badbuses.com, which both use the same phone number, also trace back to the same 4th Street address in Marrero that's listed under Linda Lewis and Bourbon Street Limos with the Secretary of State.
And remember Jacque' DeLoach? She said she'll never forget the driver who dropped off three dozen teenagers 10 blocks from their first destination the night of their homecoming.
When asked if she was confident that it was Sean Lewis she dealt with that day, DeLoach said, "I know that was Sean Lewis I dealt with that day!" That means Sean Lewis was somehow linked to Ball Entertainment and Chad Baxter. In fact, both are listed under another charter bus company on the Secretary of State's website.
We tried to reach Sean Lewis and Linda Lewis by phone for comment, but both Bourbon Street Limos and the phone numbers for Sean Lewis' businesses have blocked our calls from FOX 8.