Sixteen men, including seven Queens residents, have been charged with illegally taking cash bribes in a taxi-dispatching scheme at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), officials announced Wednesday.
The taxi dispatchers, who were employed by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey subcontractor Gateway Group One Frontline Services, were busted in an undercover operation following an anonymous tip, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.
They are accused of accepting cash bribes to rig the dispatching system at JFK so taxi drivers could “basically ‘cut the line’ and get ahead,” Brown said.
At the airport, dispatchers regulate the taxis between a central holding location and the terminal pick-up area, according to the district attorney. The average wait time in the holding area is about two to three hours. When a dispatcher gives taxis a fare to nearby locations, such as Queens or Brooklyn, drivers receive a Short Haul, or “shorty,” ticket, which allows them to skip the central holding area and go directly to the terminal to pick-up passengers, Brown said.
The accused men allegedly accepted ten dollar cash payments to allow undercover cab operators to bypass long lines without waiting in the central holding area even though they did not have shorty tickets.
The sixteen accused dispatchers are currently waiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on charges of commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities, each of which is punishable by up to one year in jail, according to the district attorney.
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