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Former SFPD Officer Accused Of Taking Bribes From Cabbies

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- A former San Francisco police officer was arrested Tuesday and arraigned Wednesday on bribery charges for allegedly accepting money from taxi drivers in exchange for a passing grade on a written examination required for a permit, according to the district attorney's office.

Paul Makaveckas, 55, surrendered to authorities in San Francisco on Tuesday and was arraigned in San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday.

Makaveckas pleaded not guilty to four counts of bribery and was released from jail after posting $160,000 bail.

He allegedly accepted bribes of around $100 each from taxi cab driver applicants over the course of two years, ending in March 2009, district attorney's office spokeswoman Erica Derryck said.

In return, Makaveckas, who was in charge of administering and grading the written exams at the time, allegedly gave the drivers passing grades, according to the district attorney's office.

He retired from the Police Department in March 2009, police Lt. Lyn Tomioka said.

William Hancock, 60, was allegedly the middleman in the transactions.

Hancock operated a taxi driving school, and applicants would allegedly pay him bribe money that he would then hand over to Makaveckas, according to the district attorney's office.

Hancock was also arrested on Tuesday. He was booked into Marin County Jail and will be transferred to San Francisco for arraignment on three counts of bribery.

Derryck said she did not know whether the taxi drivers involved in the case had been identified, and she said the Police Department was handling that part of the investigation.

"That's something we're aware of," police Lt. Lyn Tomioka said. "I don't know if a decision has been made yet on what our plan would be" for the taxi drivers involved in the bribes.

Tomioka said she did not know how many cabbies were involved in the case.

"Our criminal justice system relies on the integrity of those sworn to uphold it," District Attorney Kamala Harris said in a statement.

"Any breach of this code threatens the safety of our community. There is zero tolerance for individuals who violate the public trust by abusing their authority and breaking our laws for their own personal gain."

(© CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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