Conn. banker pleads not guilty to hate crime

March 9, 2012 5:15:17 PM PST
An investment banker pleaded not guilty Friday to a hate-crime charge stemming from a dispute with a cab driver of Middle Eastern descent over the $200 fare for a trip from New York City to his home in Darien.

William Jennings, who has been placed on leave from his job as a Morgan Stanley executive, is accused of cutting the driver's hand with a pen knife and using racial slurs in the Dec. 22 incident.

Jennings pleaded not guilty in Stamford Superior Court. He faces charges of second-degree intimidation based on race or bigotry, second-degree assault and theft of services. He is free on is $9,500 bond.

He is expected to appear in court again on April 12.

The driver told police that Jennings refused to pay the full fare for the ride from Manhattan to his $3.6 million home. The driver then drove off in search of a police officer to settle the matter. The driver said that when he put his hand through the partition into the passenger compartment, Jennings cut him on the hand, according to police.

A lawyer for Jennings, Eugene Riccio, has said his client did not intend to cut the driver and was trying to get out of the cab as the driver raced through stop signs and red lights. He also has denied that his client used ethnically derogatory language to insult the driver.

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