(CBS) NEW YORK - Morgan Stanley executive William Bryan Jennings has been charged with a hate crime related to an alleged stabbing in December of a New York City taxi driver of Middle Eastern descent.
The Wall Street Journal reports 47-year-old Jennings was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree assault, theft of services and intimidation by bias or bigotry - which in New York is considered a hate crime.
On Dec. 22, Jennings and the cab driver supposedly had an argument over payment of a $204 fare for a roughly one-hour trip from New York City to Jennings' home in Darien, Connecticut. Jennings was attending a charity event that night. Upon his arrival home, the executive allegedly refused to pay the fare and cut the driver in the hand with a pen knife. The wound to the taxi driver's hand required stitches, police detective Mark Cappelli said.
In an interview, Jennings's attorney, Eugene Riccio, said the cab driver "attempted to collect an exorbitant sum of money from my client for the cab ride" outside his home. Riccio said the driver sought $300 from Jennings, while he offered to pay $160.
Reuters reports that with Jennings still in the cab, the cabbie drove around looking for a police officer to help resolve the argument, police say. Jennings claims the cabbie drove recklessly and threatened to drive back to Manhattan.
Riccio claims his client acted in self-defense.
Jennings then allegedly threatened and used racial slurs against the cab driver, who is of Middle Eastern ancestry. Jennings used a pen knife to stab at the driver through a window in the cab's partition, police said. When the cabbie tried to close the window, Jennings stabbed his hand.
"My client categorically denies that he stabbed this individual," Riccio said, adding that Jennings also "denies that he said any racially offensive statements to the cab driver."
The driver called police following the incident, Cappelli said. A warrant was later issued for Jennings's arrest. Jennings didn't contact police until about two weeks later, a press release says.
Jennings was released on $9,500 bond and has a court appearance scheduled for March 9 in Connecticut.
Jennings has been placed on leave from the company, according to a Morgan Stanley spokesman.
Jennings is co-head of North American fixed-income capital markets at Morgan Stanley.