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Dispute Over Dime Leads To MTA Employee Arrested For Allegedly Punching Bronx Straphanger

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A New York City woman says she was attacked by a subway station attendant for taking too long to find cash.

Janet Ojeda admitted she exchanged words with the woman in the token booth on Thursday morning, but when the clerk allegedly came out and picked her up by the neck, choking her, well, even hours later, Ojeda got emotional talking about it when talking to CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez.

"She came and she swung me against the gate and she picked me up with one hand and she was just looking straight into my eyes ... like... I started seeing a blur. And I'm trying to get air. And she could hear me, but she didn't let go," Ojeda said.

"It was scary. All I was thinking was if I was going to see my family again."

Ojeda showed CBS 2's Pablo Guzman the bruises she claims were the result of the alleged assault. Police and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the station agent inside the booth at the 138th Street station in the Bronx as Phylathia Monroe, 45. The MTA said she has nearly 20 years on the job.

The confrontation began at around 5:30 a.m. Ojeda was going to work and was, she said, 10 cents short on a MetroCard when Monroe called for the next customer through. Ojeda said she found the dime, but that's when the argument began. She claimed Monroe got out of the booth, put her finger in her face and punched her.

"I told her to let me go, and I was like … you're gonna get arrested right now," Ojeda said. "As soon as that fist hit my face I felt my face swell up."

Ojeda said she eventually got free and then went from the station to a local NYPD precinct and filed a report.

Four officers went into the station and arrested Monroe on a misdemeanor assault charge. Ojeda hired attorney Justin Blitz.

"We intend to look at all the legal remedies on her behalf, and we're confident we will be successful," Blitz said.

"I want justice. And she didn't just assault me, she tried to kill me," Ojeda added

The MTA suspended Monroe pending an investigation. If convicted on the assault charge, Monroe could face a year behind bars. CBS 2 tried to contact Monroe Thursday night, but her family said she was not home.

Ojeda said she plans to take a few days off from work to recover and she said she plans to sue the MTA.

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