A 72-year-old Long Island man working as an Access-a-Ride driver attempted to steal nearly $70,000 from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority by faking erroneous trips, 661 in total, before his was busted, the Queens district attorney alleges.
Prosecutors say the Freeport man filed bogus reimbursement claims between Sept. 2020 and Feb. 2021 and took home an extra $69,860 for rides he never provided.
The accused driver allegedly logged 661 rides to one woman's account between that six month period via a ride hailing app. If those rides were accurate, he would have picked the passenger, on average, three times a day for six months.
MTA investigators observed the Access-a-Ride operator several times when he was supposed to be driving the female passenger in question, but each time there was no passenger in his wheelchair-accessible TLC yellow taxi, prosecutors say.
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“The Access-a-Ride service provides much-needed transportation options for
those with mobility issues. Sadly, this defendant allegedly found a way to scam the system," District Attorney Melinda Katz said Friday.
“It is morally bankrupt that this unscrupulous driver was allegedly able to rip off nearly $70,000 from a program specifically intended to provide vital transportation to people with disabilities. This case highlights why strong fraud controls must be implemented throughout the MTA," the transit agency's inspector general, Carolyn Pokorny, added.
Katz said the Freeport man appeared in Queens Criminal Court on Thursday on charges of grand larceny, identity theft, and falsifying business records. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.