A 72-year-old Long Island man could face up to 15 years in prison for bilking the MTA’s Access-A-Ride’s app of nearly $70,000 by hacking a Queens woman’s account and claiming she took nearly 700 rides over a few months.
James Laverty of Freeport was charged with grand larceny in the second degree, identity theft in the first degree and falsifying business records in the first degree, District Attorney Melinda Katz’s office announced Nov. 19. The unidentified Queens woman used the app, which is offered via a partnership with Curb Mobility to provide paratransit users the ability to request the MTA service through their mobile phones, some time after Sept. 1, 2020, when she requested two rides from Laverty, who picked her up.
Five months later investigators with the MTA discovered that Laverty was allegedly driving himself around Queens and other places in his own wheelchair-accessible city Taxi and Limousine Commission yellow cab after he made monthly requests for reimbursements to Curb, according to the DA’s office. The defendant billed the woman $69,860 from September 2020 to February 2021 for 661 rides, which Curb was compensated for by the MTA.
“The Access-a-Ride service provides much-needed transportation options for those with mobility issues,” said Katz. “Sadly, this defendant allegedly found a way to scam the system. This kind of malfeasance is unacceptable and the defendant will be prosecuted for his alleged crimes.”
The investigation was conducted by the Office of the MTA Inspector General and by Dets. Hugh Dorsey and James Monaco of the DA’s Detective Bureau under the supervision of Sgt. Ronald Georg and Assistant Chief Daniel O’Brien.
“My Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to stop scammers from lining their pockets at the expense of others,” added Katz.