Hate Crime Charges Dismissed Against Banker

Darien, Conn. banker William Jennings was accused of cutting a New York City taxi driver's hand with a pen knife and telling him to go back to his own country

Monday, Oct 15, 2012  |  Updated 5:58 PM EDT
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Hate Crime Charges Dismissed Against Banker

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A judge threw out charges Monday against an investment banker from Connecticut accused of a hate crime against a New York City cab driver.

The case was dismissed in Stamford Superior Court against William Jennings, who had been charged with intimidation based on race or bigotry, assault and theft of services.

The Darien resident was accused of cutting the driver's hand with a pen knife after refusing to pay the $204 fare from Manhattan to Darien last December. The driver of Middle Eastern descent told police that Jennings told him to go back to his own country.

The driver said that when he put his hand through the partition into the passenger compartment, Jennings cut him, according to police.

A prosecutor said police were unable to find the knife, but the driver had it, the Stamford Advocate reported.

Hassan Ahmad, the driver's attorney, said his client told the prosecutor about five months ago that he had the knife. He said he should have told authorities sooner, but he was scared.

Ahmad said the delay didn't affect the facts of the case. He said Jennings refused to pay the fare, took the knife out and slashed his client in the hand.

Ahmad said he would seek federal charges in the case. He denied his client restrained Jennings.

"It's very disturbing," Ahmad said. "It's outrageous."

The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.

Jennings' attorney, Eugene Riccio, says the driver unlawfully restrained Jennings. He says Jennings brandished the knife to try to escape and the driver grabbed the knife.

Riccio also has said the driver gave conflicting accounts of the encounter.

"The next time someone of note in the financial world gets arrested, people should reserve their judgment about the situation until all the facts are known," Riccio said. "Mr. Jennings didn't get that chance unfortunately."

Jennings denied any bigotry.

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