Toll evaders swindled Port Authority out of $28M

February 19, 2013 8:20:04 PM PST
The Port Authority estimates some $28 million has been ripped off in the past two years by thieves who don't pay E-ZPass tolls.

Evading the E-ZPass toll has become a cottage industry.

"How did this work?" Eyewitness News Investigative Reporter Jim Hoffer asked.

"It's an electronic device. It was a switch right here, it would be on the dashboard of the truck, when it approached the toll, flip the switch. The license plate now out of view of the camera," said Mike Brennan, Port Authority Police.

Port Authority Police have amassed quite a collection of trick license plates, from the creative to the crude.

"This plate is actually a 2-3 Grease. The grease on the plate made it appear to be an 8," said Steve Pisciotta, Port Authority Police.

But by far, the most popular fare beater is the flip plate.

A quick search on the internet will find dozens of makers of hide a plate system for about $100 dollars. That's less than the cost of two George Washington Bridge crossings for a trucker, as long as he doesn't get caught.

"They get charged criminally. Anybody that makes a conscious effort to cover their license plate and avoid paying the toll is stealing. They're criminals," said Lt. Michael Hennessy, Port Authority Police.

And in the last two years, those criminals have ripped off the cash-strapped Port Authority of $28 million in fares. As part of its zero-tolerance policy, the Port Authority has posted a Wall of Shame on its website listing the worst toll cheats.

"So what do you make of this they say you're the 11th biggest offender biggest toll violator?" Hoffer asked.

"That is surprising, I'm shocked that's a big amount," said Hatim Said, an accused toll jumper.

Near the top of the list is Hatim Said, who rents a Jitney bus and drives commuters into Manhattan every day.

Port Authority says in fare and fines, he owes more than $94,000.

"No, no that's completely wrong," Said said.

"How much do you owe?" Hoffer asked.

"A couple hundreds," Said answered.

Hatim Said insists he owes nowhere near $94,000, but the Port Authority says he deserves to be on their Wall of Shame along with an Oklahoma trucking company that holds the number one spot with $1.7 million in fines and penalties.


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