Watch CBS News

CBS2 Exclusive: Brooklyn Grocer Says TLC Seized Car For No Reason

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Brooklyn fruit store manager was claiming Friday that he and an employee were victimized by overzealous inspectors, who deemed their private car an illegal taxi and seized it.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported exclusively, Williamsburg grocer Mayer Kohn said he feels the car was "stolen."

He said he was just making a trip to restock his supply of bananas when he became ensnared in a nightmare courtesy of taxi inspectors.

"I'm very angry," Kohn said. "The whole night I did not get sleep, because I see what police can do with the people."

Kohn's story is simple. He had Paulino Rodriguez, who has worked for him for 13 years, drive him to the nearby Pepe's fruit wholesaler. But on the way back to his store, he was stopped by Taxi and Limousine Commissioners, who claimed Rodriguez was driving an illegal taxi.

They impounded the car and gave him a $2,000 ticket.

"I'm not a taxi driver," Rodriguez said, adding that he never has been in the time that he has worked in Kohn's store.

Kohn and Rodriguez charged that the ticket they received is filled with falsehoods and lies.

The ticket says, for example, that Kohn was observed hailing Rodriguez, and that his rate is $11 per hour. Rodriguez is actually paid $11.50 per hour as a full-time employee of the grocery, and he has the pay stubs to prove it, Kramer reported.

"It's racist for sure, because they say -- he's a Spanish guy. I'm a Jewish guy," Kohn said, "The whole system is broken. The New York Police Department -- I don't have no trust in them – no trust in them. They can take away the car for nothing. I don't have no trust in them. I think it's a crime."

The TLC insisted that its actions were legitimate.

"Our officers observed a street hail and followed the ride to the drop-off, and then interviewed the passenger," said TLC spokesman Allan J. Fromberg. "A determination was made that there was sufficient evidence of illegal for-hire activity."

Kohn and Rodriguez were given the opportunity to plead guilty and cut the fine in half, or fight the ticket. They have chosen the latter option.

Their court date is set for Tuesday, Dec. 16. But in the meantime, Rodriguez's car is in a local impound lot.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories:

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.