STATEN ISLAND, NY – The city’s Department of Investigation (DOI) has announced that half a dozen taxi drivers, including a Staten Islander, have pleaded guilty to overcharging passengers.
According to the department, four current drivers and two former drivers licensed by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) pleaded guilty to an offense, waived their right to close their case and received the ordered to attend sessions with the Manhattan Justice Opportunities, which provides for sentencing. options to reduce the use of incarceration for those accused of minor offenses.
The case of a seventh taxi driver is pending in court, the DOI said in a statement.
“The city’s taxi industry has suffered a devastating economic blow in recent years and as a result, many drivers have directly suffered a severe impact,” said Acting DOI Commissioner Daniel Cort. “While we have compassion for all who have been affected, the DOI has acted to stop the fraud of this group of drivers and protect taxi passengers from victimization.”
The agency’s investigation began after receiving an allegation of misconduct involving a taxi driver, according to the DOI. The investigation was conducted in partnership with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Cyrus Vance Jr.
Anver Kerimov, 62, whose public records indicate he is a resident of Sunnyside, was accused of overcharging 116 passengers for non-existent tolls or over-inflated toll charges totaling approximately $ 1,270 between July 26, 2015 and February 7, 2017.
The DOI investigation analyzed GPS and TLC trip data, examined maps developed from the recordings, and examined driver information.
Taxi drivers overcharged passengers by charging toll rates that ignored the E-ZPass discount required by TLC regulations, according to the DOI. When overcharges are made, these funds are not collected by the TLC, but rather by the driver who commits the act.
The agency made recommendations that subsequently led the TLC to tighten its rules to issue alerts to passengers regarding toll charges and the driver’s ability to select tolls throughout the city.
“Fraud can never escalate anywhere in this city and must be brought to light,” Cort said. “I thank the Manhattan District Attorney for their partnership on this matter and TLC for their cooperation and assistance.”