The arrest of a moving company owner and several of its employees for extortion and unauthorized use of a movable underscores the need for the Public Service Commission to have greater authority in regulating the moving and storage industry, Commissioner Eric Skrmetta (R-Dist. 1) said today.
Last week, Mandeville Police arrested the owner and employees of Mr. Move, a Jefferson Parish-based moving company. The Police acted following an investigation launched by Skrmetta’s office after the commissioner received several complaints about the company raising its rates after picking up customers’ belongings and refusing to release customers’ property unless the higher rates were paid.
Under existing law, moving companies have the latitude to raise rates up to 15 percent before triggering regulatory action, and PSC investigators cannot effect criminal arrests.
“I’m going to ask my fellow commissioners to join me in tightening the regulations on moving companies and will seek changes – including legislation, if necessary – to give our investigators more authority in working with local law enforcement.”
The investigation into Mr. Move began in early June when a customer contacted Skrmetta’s office to report her frustrations with the company. The PSC investigator assigned to Skrmetta’s office, a former deputy sheriff, recognized the case as meeting criteria for a criminal charge and contacted Mandeville Police.
“I’m confident this customer is not the only one who has had trouble with poor performing moving and storage companies that may have committed similar actions,” Skrmetta said. “I encourage anyone who has had such experiences to contact my office and local law enforcement.”
More information about Skrmetta and the LPSC is available online at www.ericskrmetta.com, and constituents can also follow and communicate with Skrmetta on his Facebook page, “Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, LPSC.”