Two Valley Stream men are among a group of seven taxi dispatchers accused of accepting bribes from drivers for preferential treatment at LaGuardia Airport, officials said Wednesday.
Louis Evens, 57, and Gary Luc Valerius, 55, allegedly allowed taxi drivers to skip the dispatch pool at the Airport and pick up passengers before other drivers while employed as a dispatchers for Gateway Group One Frontline Services, a New York-New Jersey Port Authority contractor.
The dispatchers were tasked with sending available taxis from a holding area to pick up passengers as flights arrived at the airport, according to a news release from the queens district attorney's office. The wait times for drivers in the pool can be as long as three hours and the group of dispatchers are said to have accepted bribes of $5 to $10 to allow drivers to skip the line.
The Port Authority's Office of the Inspector General and Queens District Attorney's Airport Investigations Unit launched an investigation after receiving complaints from drivers in January and used confidential informants and electronic surveillance between February and June, according to the release.
The seven were arrested Wednesday morning, according to the release, and are awaiting arraignment in the Queens Criminal Court.
Evens was charged with three counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities. Valerius was charged with seven counts each of second-degree commercial bribe receiving, official misconduct and receiving unlawful gratuities.
Both men face up to a year in prison if convicted.