Man faces bigotry, assault charges after scuffle with cab driver

A Knollwood Lane man faces charges of assault, larceny and racially-charged intimidation after a December cab ride from Manhattan to Darien went awry. But, according to the man’s lawyer, he was abducted by the driver.

William Bryan Jennings, 45, turned himself in to police after a two-month investigation ended in a warrant for his arrest. He posted a $9,500 bond and he has court on Friday, March 9.The New York City cab driver told Darien Police that Jennings stabbed him in the hand with a penknife after a disagreement over the $204 fare, according to Det. Mark Cappelli. The driver’s lacerated hand was treated on scene by Darien EMS-Post 53, and later sutured at Roosevelt Hospital in New York, according to police records.

Jennings has been put on indefinite leave from his position as the co-head of fixed income capital markets in North America at Morgan Stanley, according to company spokesman Pen Pendleton. The company would not comment on the matter further.

Jennings’s lawyer, Gene Riccio of Gulash & Riccio in Bridgeport, claims that Jennings was the “victim of an abduction.”

“We have a serious disagreement with the facts as portrayed by the cab driver,” Riccio said. Jennings agreed to take a polygraph test in mid-February, but Riccio said his client did not take the test because the police would not agree to drop the charges if Jennings passed the lie detector. The driver, Mohamed Anmar of Astoria, Queens, N.Y., was not asked to take a polygraph test, court records indicated.

Anmar told police that he picked up Jennings, who appeared intoxicated, just outside of Ink48 hotel on 11th Avenue at roughly 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 21 — two days after Jennings’s 45th birthday. Jennings had “two or three Coors Lights” at a charity event he hosted, and later had “several more beers” at a holiday party, according to Jennings’s statement to police.

The Darien man had arranged for a car service to drive him home, but after 10-15 minutes of waiting, he hailed a cab. This is where the facts become disputed. Anmar claims Jennings agreed to pay a flat $204 fee for the ride to Darien, but Jennings said they did not agree on an amount before they left.

On the way, the pair stopped to get some food, and Anmar said he again showed Jennings the fare chart, showing the cost. After eating his food, Jennings fell asleep and later awoke as they arrived to Darien.

Jennings directed Anmar to his Knollwood Avenue home, but the two disagree on what happened next. Anmar claimed Jennings refused to pay the $204 and offered him $50. Jennings said the fare was $294, and offered Anmar $160, as it was a fee comparable to past rides to Darien from the city.

“…I refused to pay his demanded fare as I believed that he was trying to take advantage of me,” Jennings told police. Anmar said Jennings threatened to call police during the fare dispute, and Anmar said “please do.” Anmar himself tried calling 911, but he did not have cellular reception, according to police records. Anmar told police that Jennings said “the cops wouldn’t do anything because he pays $10,000 in taxes.”

Jennings then tried to exit the car, but it was locked, he said. Anmar left the home to look for a police officer, but Jennings said Anmar was going to drive him back to the city and he feared “being dropped in any number of dangerous places…”

Eventually Jennings got the door open, but Anmar was driving too fast for him to exit. Anmar admitted he didn’t want Jennings to flee and stiff him the money, so he ran a flashing red light to keep Jennings in the car until he could find a police officer. At this point, Jennings threatened Anmar, according to police statements.

“Mother —— I’m going to kill you, you should go back to your country,” Anmar said, recalling the words of his rider. Riccio denied Jennings made any racial insults to Anmar, who is an American citizen of Egyptian descent. Anmar’s original statement to police did not include claims that Jennings made racially-charged comments. This came in a second statement given to police a few weeks later.

Fearing that Anmar would drop him “anywhere he wanted to at a very late hour,” Jennings said he looked for his phone to call police, but pulled out a penknife and told the driver to let him out. Anmar said Jennings tried to stab him in the neck and he defended himself and sustained cuts to his right hand. Jennings said Anmar reached for the knife and took it from him. When the car finally stopped, Jennings fled up Leroy Avenue. Anmar tried to track him down but couldn’t find him.

Anmar then called the police. When they arrived, Anmar was “bleeding profusely” from his right hand, police said. Court records show that he was cut on his index finger and palm.

“I felt like I was going to die that night,” Anmar told police.

For two weeks after the event, Jennings avoided contacting police, claiming he just wanted the incident to go away. “I should have called the Darien Police and I regret not doing so,” he said in his statement.

Jennings contacted Riccio after a friend had read about the incident in The Darien Times police blotter. He then discussed the matter with the police on Jan. 4 with Riccio present. Police asked Jennings if he still had the penknife, but he said the cab driver took it from him.

When asked if Jennings’s state of mind might have affected his recollection of the facts, Riccio said he did not think that was the case. Two of Jennings’s charges are felonies. If convicted, he faces more than 10 years in prison and a $10,500 fine.

Riccio would not say whether his client would seek civil damages for the alleged abduction. He also said he was unaware of any civil charges against his client. Anmar did not respond to requests for comment.

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