NEW YORK - A New York City taxi driver is charged with keeping more than $28,000 that should have gone to the Metropolitan Transit Authority in E-Z Pass toll fees over the past two years.
Rodolfo Sanchez, 69, of Long Island City has been sneaking through toll plazas on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and Midtown Tunnel by "piggybacking," or tailgating cars directly in front of his cab, and slipping through the toll lane before the barrier came back down, according to Queens District Attorney Robert Brown.
The cabbie allegedly crossed two of the city's bridges and tunnels more than 4,000 times from August 2012 to April 2014.
Sanchez was arraigned Thursday in Queens County Court. He is charged with grand larceny, theft of services and criminal possession of stolen property.
"This type of behavior is egregiously unfair to the millions of honest motorists who pay tolls every day, and we will continue efforts to root out toll evaders and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," said Donald Look, MTA bridges and tunnels chief of security.
MTA investigators discovered that a certain E-Z Pass tag was regularly crossing the RFK and Midtown Tunnel toll plazas without making payments. The E-Z Pass was tracked on the RFK bridge toll plaza 3,017 times and the Midtown Tunnel toll plaza 1,061 times, costing the MTA $28,242.50 in lost revenue, according to the district attorney.
Sanchez told investigators that he knew there was no money on the E-Z Pass, and he dodged the tolls because he needed the money for his family, according to the attorney general.
CNN efforts to reach Sanchez were unsuccessful.
"There are cameras and video. We have active eyes on everything. We are actively going to pursue anyone evading paying toll," MTA spokeswoman Judy Glave told CNN.
If convicted, Sanchez faces up to seven years in prison.
"His (Taxi & Limousine Commission) license has been suspended and the matter is under investigation," TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg told CNN.