Aug. 12, 2015 By Michael Florio
Seven taxi dispatchers have been arrested for allegedly accepting bribes to let cab drivers cut in line to pick up passengers at LaGuardia Airport, according to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
The dispatchers, who were caught in an undercover sting operation, were arrested this morning when they showed up for what they thought was a Port Authority training session at the Central Air Terminal at LaGuardia Airport.
“The defendants are accused of accepting bribes in the form of cash payments to rig the airport taxi dispatching system at LaGuardia Airport,” Brown said in a statement.
“The bribery scam allegedly allowed taxi drivers to basically ‘cut the line’ and get ahead of honest drivers waiting their turn for passengers. Though the alleged bribes paid each time amounted to only a few dollars, on busy days, thousands of cabs pass through LaGuardia’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.
The dispatchers regulate the movement of taxis from a central holding area to a terminal taxi pick up area. Taxis are summoned from the holding area to the pickup area as needed. The average wait time is two to three hours, according to Brown.
The dispatchers allegedly accepted cash bribes of $5 to $10 per ride, which would allow cabbies to skip the long lines in the holding area and go directly to the airport terminal pick up area.
They would also take bribes to issue cabbies with a “short haul ticket,” according to Brown, which also allows taxi drivers to go directly to the pickup area.
The short haul tickets are issued when passengers want to go to Brooklyn, Queens and nearby sections of Nassau County. Drivers are not allowed to buy a short haul ticket and dispatchers cannot sell them.
The seven dispatchers face charges of commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities–each of which is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.