In New York, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced yesterday (PDF) that a taxi driver, 69-year-old Rodolfo Sanchez, has been charged with stealing more than $28,000 from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) by, “crossing the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Bridge and entering the Midtown Tunnel without making a toll payment on more than four thousand separate occasions by ‘piggybacking’ on cars directly in front of his cab between 2012 and 2014.”
District Attorney Brown says that Mr. Sanchez would tailgate the a vehicle in front of his cab, “thus allowing both vehicles to pass through the toll lane before the barrier came back down.” The New York Times notes that Mr. Sanchez, a Long Island City, Queens resident, if guilty, wouldn’t be the first person to have committed this crime, but, “no single driver appeared to have ever been caught making quite so many free trips.”
CBS New York reports that prosecutors caught Mr. Sanchez when MTA Bridges and Tunnels Director of E-ZPass Maintenance Joseph Gugliero discovered that an expired E-ZPass (an electronic toll-collection device) that had been reported lost was making regular crossings of the RFK Bridge. Surveillance video then allegedly showed that Sanchez, driving his taxi, tailgated vehicles in front of him.
District Attorney Brown did make sure to point out, “It should be noted that a criminal complaint is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.” The New York Times and Associated Press both attempted to speak with Mr. Sanchez’s attorney but neither organization had their phone calls returned. The New York Times does mention that Sanchez told investigators, “I needed the money for my family.”