Sixteen airport taxi dispatchers were arrested and charged with allegedly receiving unlawful bribes after an undercover operation found some drivers paid to cut the line for passengers.
After receiving a tip December 2012, investigators found dispatchers would receive cash payments as low as $10 in exchange for skipping the lines to go pick up passengers at John F. Kennedy Airport's terminals.
On average, taxis hang out in the holding area for two to three hours. The dispatchers cut that wait time down significantly for any driver who would pony up.
While the cash amounts were low, busy days and thousands of cabs could result in hundreds of dollars in just one day's shift, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown in a statement.
The Port Authority's New Jersey-based subcontractor Gateway Group One Frontline Services — which hired the dispatchers — has already launched a new, real-time tracking system to prevent a repeat of the scam.
"These defendants sold out their position of public trust and chose to line their pockets and enrich themselves, said Port Authority Inspector General Robert Van Etten in a statement. "The defendants took unfair advantage of a dispatching process that was created to provide a level playing field for all cab drivers."
Those arrested include: Franklin Andrews, 36, of Brooklyn; Jessica Augilla, 24, of Brooklyn; Duwayne Bayliss, 34, of Queens; Kevin Dean, 52, of Queens; Ana Hernandez, 33, of Brooklyn; Lennox Ifill, 62, of Queens; Jahreme Joefield, 33, of Queens; Jean Legerme, 30, of Brooklyn; Rasheeda Lewis-Gordon, 37, of 351 Wynona Street in Brooklyn; Andrew Mayers, 60, of Brooklyn; Jaccain Montauban, 30, of Queens; Keisa Munroe, 36, of the Bronx; Wag Yum Ng, 56, of Queens; Steffany Persaud, 23, of Brooklyn; Manuel Roman, 31, of Brooklyn; and Natasha Stoute, 30, of Queens.
The dispatchers were were taken to Queens Criminal Court, where they face misdemeanor charges for receiving commercial bribes, taking unlawful gratuities and official misconduct — each of which are punishable by up to one year in jail.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria