Chinatown businessman rejects plea offer in D.C. taxicab licensing sting

A Chinatown businessman accused of bribing District officials in an alleged taxicab licensing scheme has rejected a plea offer from federal prosecutors, and his case appears headed to trial this spring.

Anthony C.Y. Cheng Sr. and his son, Anthony R. Cheng Jr., told a judge Tuesday that they have no intention of pleading guilty to the alleged conspiracy.

“I don’t accept that,” said the elder Cheng, a frequent fundraiser for local politicians at his namesake restaurants, Tony Cheng’s Mongolian and Tony Cheng’s Seafood on H Street NW.

The father and son were charged with bribery last June after a sting operation involving a well-known informant from a previous bribery investigation.

U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle has scheduled a two-week trial to begin May 5. The government’s case will rely heavily on testimony from the informant — former D.C. Taxicab Commission chairman Leon Swain Jr.— and recordings of his interactions with the Chengs.

The Chengs’ attorneys have reviewed some of the recordings and say they do not implicate their clients. The elder Cheng is also likely to testify, his attorney said Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lionel Andre said the government offered the Chengs a plea deal that would have resulted in a jail sentence ranging from 10-to-16 months, under federal sentencing guidelines. If the Chengs are not successful at trial, the father faces up to 21 months in prison and the son faces up to 27 months, according to the guidelines.

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Ann covers legal affairs in the District and Maryland for the Washington Post. Ann previously covered state government and politics in California, New Hampshire and Maryland. She joined the Post in 2005.
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