Tag Archives: taxi driver

Queens cabbie charged for stealing more than $28K in tolls


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo: Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Brian Mendonca

A Long Island City taxi driver has been busted for evading more than $28,000 in tolls by “piggybacking” on cars through Robert F. Kennedy Bridge E-Z Pass lanes.

The cabbie, 69-year-old Rodolfo Sanchez, is accused of crossing the bridge without paying the toll more than 3,000 times over a two-year period, between 2012 and 2010, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Sanchez was able to avoid the tolls by tailgating the vehicle in front of his yellow cab and letting both cars go through the bridge’s E-Z Pass lanes before the barrier came down, the district attorney said.

He was eventually caught, according to Brown, when it was discovered that an E-Z Pass tag that was previously reported lost, was regularly crossing the bridge’s toll plazas without making a payment. The pass had become invalid in 2011 but it was still emitting a signal to the E-Z Pass readers on the bridge, he said.

Sanchez allegedly told investigators that he knew that the E-Z Pass was no good but he used it because he needed money for his family.

Sanchez was arraigned Thursday and charged with grand larceny, theft of services and criminal possession of stolen property, prosecutors said. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

 

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Weekend events in Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

File photo

Friday, August 17

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Both children and adults are invited to a fundraising event at the Forest Park Carousel to raise money for programs and services for those who have Alzheimer’s.

7 p.m. – 10 p.m., “Taxi Driver” at the Museum of the Moving Image: Martin Scorsese’s dark, dyspeptic view of New York, made all the more menacing by a brassy Bernard Herrmann score, is also a great visual love letter to the Big Apple.

7: 30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Irish Movie Night at the New York Irish Center: “Eat the Peach,” Two young out-of-work Irish men are watching an old Elvis Presley movie in which a carnival cyclist performs an act called the Wall of Death. Transfixed, they decide to put together their own “Wall of Death.” The film is based on the true story of two brothers-in-law, frustrated by life in a small border town.

8 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Rufus King Park movie series presents “Knocked Up,” a Judd Apatow film about a one-night stand that results in an unexpected pregnancy for entertainment reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl), who vows to be a good mom and keep her career on track by trying to make things work with the slacker (Seth Rogen) who knocked her up.

8 p.m. – midnight, The Laughing Devil presents a showcase of the best comics that New York City has to offer, featuring a rotating cast with a healthy mix of celebrities and the next-big-thing.  Tonight’s show features Steve Hofstetter.

8:30 p.m., This outdoor movie series at Hudson River Park features family-oriented PG movies suitable for all ages. Tonight’s film will be “Back to the Future.” Free popcorn will be provided.

Saturday, August 18

7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Saturday is the last day of the fifth annual Summer Streets. About seven miles of New York City’s streets will be opened up for running, biking, walking and playing from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets. There will also be activities and giveaways, including rock climbing and free bike helmets.

11 a.m. – 3 p.m., FlyNYC 2012: Come fly a kite at FlyNYC 2012, a kite festival in Riverside Park. There will also be kite making, live entertainment and other activities.

11 a.m. – 5 p.m., South Queens Park Association presents its second annual collectible car show at Roy Wilkins Park.

5 p.m. – 10 p.m., First Annual Rockaway Beach Club Crawl: Get to know your boardwalk concessions at Rockaway Beach.

8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., At the Alley Pond Environmental Center astronomer Mark Freilich will teach you all about the stars and the features of the moon with an outside viewing using a professional telescope.

10:30 p.m. – midnight, Playing with Reality’s Late-Night Sandbox Series: Three unplanned stories. three audience volunteers. one unforgettable show each month. Here’s your chance to step on stage with highly skilled inter-actors and become the star and co-creator of an entirely unscripted journey. Or, just sit back and enjoy. This one-of-a-kind sandbox is waiting for you. Fill your pail with enthusiasm, jump in and play.

Sunday, August 19

9 a.m. – 4 p.m., The 3rd Summer Craze Car Show & Blood Drive will have trophies, dash plaques, goody bags  and raffles.  All Donations will go directly to St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside.

1 p.m. – 7 p.m.Astoria Park Shore Fest: A Car-free celebration on Shore Boulevard adjacent to Astoria Park. It will include educational activities, live music, fitness programs and food-tastings with various neighborhood restaurants.

6 p.m. – midnight, Long Island City: Art, Graffiti, Infrastructure, and Sunset, One subway stop away from midtown Manhattan, Long Island City is undergoing its second makeover as its industrial landscape gives way to artists’ venues, the reuse of its daylight factory buildings, new condos and shorefront parks.

Despite lawsuits, DOT work, off-ramp still unsafe


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A stretch of street – proven unsafe for cars, pedestrians and even storefronts – has “struck” again.

Following three crashes in as many months in 2011, another car accident occurred on May 1 at the off-ramp of the Ed Koch-Queensborough Bridge, located on Queens Plaza South near Crescent Street in Long Island City.

A taxi driver came off of the exit and collided with scaffolding, but no one was injured during the incident.

The crash was the fourth overall in the last 12 months – including two accidents within nine days of each other last year, during which drivers were speeding and failed to negotiate the sharp turn at the end of the ramp, causing them to smash their cars into two nearby storefronts. One passenger and one pedestrian were killed in the accidents, and both drivers lost a limb.

The proprietors of the two stores – Espinal Caribbean Restaurant II and Villa De Beauté hair salon – are suing a number of parties, including the city, Department of Transportation (DOT) and the drivers and owners of the vehicles, for roughly $1 million in damages.

“There was negligence on the part of the various defendants,” said Scott Agulnick, the shop owners’ attorney. “Our lawsuit is not like a personal injury lawsuit. We are actually seeking real damages – the loss of equipment, inventory, improvements and revenue itself, along with the good faith the businesses had built. The various parties owe a duty to use the reasonable care that an ordinary person would do under those circumstances. Those people who are designing the roadway and the traffic pattern owed a reasonable duty when doing so to prevent a dangerous situation. The drivers of the vehicle owed a duty of care to keep their vehicles under control, and the owners of the vehicles are vicariously liable.”

The store owners, 44-year-old Tony Espinal and 32-year-old Akber Jiwani, were unavailable for comment.

Agulnick says Espinal is focusing on his other restaurant, while Jiwani, whose equipment and revenue was not insured, is struggling and uncertain regarding his future plans.
The recent crash represents the resurgence of a problem the city hoped it had already remedied.

Following last year’s barrage of accidents, the DOT attempted to improve safety conditions in the area by changing traffic patterns, increasing signs and erecting concrete barricades on the edge of the sidewalk.

According to DOT spokesperson Nicholas Mosquera, the department regularly reminds drivers of the appropriate speed limits on bridges and has also installed rumble strips, flashing lights and reflective tape at the off-ramp.

Senator Michael Gianaris, who was among several elected officials who requested the DOT institute the changes, believes more must be done to keep people out of harm’s way.

Despite the traffic improvements, many who work and live in the area still consider crossing near the ramp unsafe, while others believe the ramp is only dangerous when people do not follow proper traffic laws and procedures.

James Haran, who works down the block from the ramp, has seen damage done first hand.

“People are hectic coming off the bridge,” said Haran. “They cut people off and it can cause accidents. There is also a good amount of speeding. This is definitely not the best place to drive. I wouldn’t feel comfortable driving or crossing the street at this spot. My friend was hit by a speeding car at this spot two weeks ago. He is still in the hospital with a broken leg and has had four surgeries.”