Six airport taxi dispatchers at John F. Kennedy International Airport, three of them from Queens, have been charged with taking bribes from taxi drivers who wanted to go directly to airline terminals instead of waiting in long taxicab lines, the Queens district attorney said.
“The bribery scam in which the defendants were allegedly involved allowed taxi drivers to cut the line and get ahead of honest drivers waiting their turn for passengers,” said DA Attorney Richard Brown.
Taxi drivers often wait as long as two to three hours in a taxi holding area before a dispatcher releases them to proceed to airline terminals to pick up arriving passengers.
“Although the alleged bribes paid each amounted to only a few dollars, on busy days thousands of cabs pass through JFK’s terminals during an eight-hour shift — giving a dishonest dispatcher the opportunity to illegally make hundreds of dollars on a daily basis,” Brown said.
Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Matthew Daus said “taxicab drivers work hard enough to earn a living without being prey to unscrupulous dispatchers soliciting bribes and tempting them with the prospect of unfairly jumping ahead of their fellow drivers.”
The alleged taxi dispatcher scheme was discovered in May when several medallion cab drivers became suspicious and notified the TLC.
From May to August, investigators conducted field operations, including use of confidential informants, observations, surveillance and recorded conversations as well as multiple “string operations” by an undercover detective of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police.
The defendants are charged with second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, all Class A misdemeanors, the DA said. If convicted the defendants could each get up to two years in jail.
The defendants are Dennis Humphrey, 46, of 116-16 198th St. in St. Albans; Rhea White, 26, of 209-39 112th Road in Queens Village; Julio Hernandez, 42, of 95-64 113th St. in South Richmond Hill; Keithon Pippins, 29, of 314 E. Clinton St. in Roosevelt, L.I.; Jacqueline Russell, 48, of 178 Highland Blvd. in Brooklyn; and Gregory Archer, 32, of 803 Vermont St. in Brooklyn.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.
©2009 Community News Group
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