Authorities revoked a taxi driver's license after an investigation found he was ripping off unsuspecting passengers by charging twice the rate they should have paid in one of the city's largest cab scams.
"Members of the riding public must be able to trust that taxicab drivers will not only transport them safely, but that they will be honest in their dealings with them," administrative law judge Alessandra Zorgniotti wrote.
Cheema was accused of scamming passengers by repeatedly setting his meter at the rate drivers are allowed to use for trips to the suburbs, which is double the rate taxis use within city limits.
The city determined the driver was overcharging by reviewing his records, including automatic trip sheets that are generated using global positioning technology. Taxis are required to have the devices.
Officials began investigating the driver's trips after a passenger complained to the city that a fare had increased "very rapidly" during a ride from East 35th Street in Manhattan to Queens last July.
The fare was $20.20 and the driver used the higher rate category, the city said after looking at his records. Officials concluded the passenger was overcharged by about $8.
The city then found Cheema had overcharged passengers 574 times between July 1 and July 31. He earned $11,499 for 642 trips that month, while the other driver who drove the same taxi earned $4,803 for 439 trips.
The city's investigation found Cheema earned $40,000 more than the average driver in six months.
Zorgniotti recommended a $500 fine and called Cheema's actions "reprehensible."
Cheema did not show up for the hearing and a number for him could not be found.