Today’s news:

Forest Hills woman plotted spouse kill: DA

A Forest Hills wife convinced her estranged husband was having an affair allegedly tried to have him killed by a cab driver who alerted Port Authority police to the murder request, officials said last week.

Veronica Escalano, 54, was held without bail Friday after she pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and conspiracy for allegedly offering the cabbie $2,000 to murder her estranged husband who she believed was cheating on her, the Manhattan DA’s office said.

The Forest Hills housewife had allegedly hired the cab driver, Rachid Rakhis, in Manhattan at the end of May and asked him to follow her husband to his job on the Upper East Side and to New Jersey, where he recently had moved, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey police said.

After following her estranged husband several times, including a trip to a New Jersey mall where she saw him shopping with another woman, Escalano allegedly became enraged and told the cab driver she wanted her spouse dead, police and city officials said. The cab driver quickly informed the police at the Port Authority bus terminal of her alleged intent.

“Rather than ignoring a dangerous situation, this New York City cab driver acted quickly and courageously, helping to possibly save someone’s life,” city Taxi and Limousine Commissioner and Chairman David Yassky said. “He deserves our thanks, not only for his extraordinary assistance in this case, but for the example he sets for his brother and sister drivers every day.”

Port Authority police set up a sting operating using the cab driver, who told Escalano he would introduce her to someone who could kill her husband, officials said. That person was an undercover officer.

The police detective met Escalano at the bowling alley in the 42nd Street bus terminal June 17, and the Forest Hills woman allegedly gave the officer $500 and told him she would pay him another $1,500 in three weeks, according to the criminal complaint. Escalano told the detective she wanted the job to “be clean,” done in New York and not New Jersey and wanted the body to be discovered by police, the criminal complaint stated.

Escalano allegedly gave the detective two photographs of her estranged husband and his work address, the Manhattan DA said.

She was arrested June 23 after she made one last call to the driver, officials said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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