A yellow medallion taxi driver was charged with stealing more than $28,000 from the MTA by crossing the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge without paying the toll on more than 3,000 separate occasions by piggybacking on cars directly in front of his cab between 2012 and 2014.
“The defendant is accused of crossing the RFK Bridge without paying the toll more than three thousand times over a two-year period,” District Attorney Richard Brown said in a written statement. “He allegedly accomplished the thefts by tailgating the vehicle in front of his cab, thus allowing both vehicles to pass through the toll lane before the barrier came down.”
Rodolfo Sanchez, 69, of Long Island City was arraigned on April 17 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Gia Morris on a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree grand larceny, theft of services and fifth-degree criminal possession of stolen property. Sanchez faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
According to the charges, MTA Bridges and Tunnels Director of E-ZPass Maintenance Joseph Gugliero discovered that a certain E-Z Pass tag — previously reported lost — was regularly crossing the RFK Bridge toll plazas between Aug. 4, 2012, and April 16, this year, without payment.
The tag became invalid on Sept. 2, 2011, but was still emitting a signal to the E-Z Pass readers on the bridge. Then, bridge surveillance video showed a yellow medallion taxi cab tailgating a vehicle in front of the cab, thereby permitting both vehicles to cross the toll plaza before the toll barrier came down.
It was determined that between 2012 and 2014, the E-ZPass had crossed the RFK toll plaza 3,017 times without paying the tolls, costing the MTA $28,242.50 in lost revenue.
Further investigation allegedly revealed the license plates of the medallion cabs shown on the video were registered to two licensed yellow cab services. Sanchez allegedly said that he found the tag that had been reported lost in 2010 and that he knew there was no more money on it but he still used it because he needed money for his family.