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Cabbie Accused Of Sneaking Through RFK Toll Plaza 3,000 Times Without Paying

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A taxi driver has been charged with stealing more than $28,000 from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, by crossing the Robert F. Kennedy Triboro Bridge more than 3,000 times without once paying a toll.

Rodolfo Sanchez of Long Island City, Queens, allegedly drove close behind cars right in front of his cab, so as to sneak through the toll gate before the boom barrier came down, according to the Queens District Attorney's office.

The alleged incidents happened over two years between 2012 and this year.

"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 MTA Bridges and Tunnels Chief of Security Donald Look.

Prosecutors said Sanchez was caught after MTA Bridges and Tunnels Director of E-Z Pass Maintenance Joseph Gugliero found an expired E-Z Pass that had been reported lost was regularly crossing the RFK Bridge toll plazas between Aug. 4, 2012 and this past Wednesday.

Signals from the E-Z Pass were used to isolate surveillance video that allegedly showed Sanchez's yellow medallion taxi tailgating vehicles in front of him, permitting both vehicles to cross before the boom barrier came down and allowing the cab to cross without paying, prosecutors said.

Between Aug. 4, 2012 and March 28 of this year, the E-Z Pass crossed the RFK toll plaza 3,017 times without paying and deprived the MTA of $28,242.50 in revenue, prosecutors said.

Authorities later traced the license plates on the cab to two yellow medallion services – United Management Group and White and Blue Group Corp., and learned Sanchez was driving at the times of the alleged incidents.

Sanchez also allegedly claimed he had found the E-Z Pass inside a cab he had driven in 2010 – a year before it expired – and that he knew there was no money on the E-Z Pass, but used it because he needed the money for his family.

Sanchez was arraigned Thursday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Gia Morris, on charges of third-degree grand larceny, theft of services, and criminal possession of stolen property.

He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Sanchez was released on a personal recognizance bond Thursday, and was to return to court on May 22.

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