8 LaGuardia Airport taxi dispatchers accused of taking bribes for line-skip passes

QUEENS, N.Y. (WABC) -- Eight taxi dispatchers who worked at LaGuardia Airport have been charged in an undercover sting involving bribes for "front-of-the-line" passes.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Wednesday that the dispatchers accepted payment - usually $5 to 10 cash - in exchange for the special passes.

The passes are normally used to allow drivers who get local fares - including Brooklyn, Queens and the Five Towns area of Nassau County - to not have to go to the back of the line when they return to the airport. This pass cuts the normal two-to-three hour wait time down significantly.

"Though the alleged bribes paid each time amounted to only a few dollars, on busy days, thousands of cabs pass through LaGuardia's terminals during an eight-hour shift - giving a dishonest dispatcher the opportunity to illegally make hundreds of dollars on a daily basis," Brown said in a news release.

Seven of the eight suspects in the case were arrested Wednesday morning when they showed up for what they believed was a Port Authority training session being conducted at LaGuardia.

"The defendants took unfair advantage of a dispatching process that was created to provide a level playing field for all cab drivers," said Port Authority Inspector General Michael Nestor. "The PA Office of the Inspector General and its law enforcement partners will aggressively identify, investigate and bring to justice those who breach their position of public trust and corrupt the integrity of the transportation industry."

Here is a list of dispatchers arrested and the charges they're facing:

LOUIS EVENS, 57, of Valley Stream, Long Island, is charged with three counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.

DELIA GONZALEZ, 51, East Elmhurst, Queens, is charged with five counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, she faces up to a year in jail.

ALGIMIR KABIR, 60, of Kew Gardens, Queens, is charged with six counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.

CLAUDINE ROBERTS, 33, of the Bronx, is charged with four counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, she faces up to a year in jail.

CLAUDE TOBIAS, 33, of the Bronx, is charged with eleven counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.

GARY LUC VALERIUS, 55, Valley Stream, Long Island, is charged with seven counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.

CRYSTAL WARLICK, 48, of Manhattan, is still being sought and will be charged with three counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, she faces up to a year in jail.

MICHAEL ZALT, 66, of Woodside, Queens, is charged with nine counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.

The investigation started in January after the Port Authority received complaints of taxi drivers skipping the line.
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