Washington's regional taxicab regulatory agency has officially concluded that driver Paul Akinrotoye should lose his hacker's permit and face criminal prosecution for "his habit of knowingly and willfully overcharing patrons" he picked up at National Airport and drove into the city.
But first, District cab officials and prosecutors will have to find Akinrotoye. He failed to appear at a hearing by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission into 11 alledged overcharges and is believed to have fled the country to avoid disciplinary action, according to Gregory Paul Barth, the commission's general counsel.
Akinrotoye was the second cab drive cited by the commission in April in a crackdown resulting from numerous complaints by passengers who claimed they were overcharged for trips between National Airport and destinations in the District and Maryland.
The commission sets cab fares only for trips that cross state lines. Fares otherwise are established by the governmental unit that licenses each driver. The order, issued Thursday, was the first of its kind involving an individual drive in the commission's 20 years of existence.
A series of hearings involving the other driver, Jack B. Dembo, concluded last month with no decision yet reached by the commission.
Akinrotoye was accused by the commission, among other alleged violations between 1978 and 1980, of charging $20 for a trip that should have cost $7.45 from the airport to the Hyatt Regency Hotel near Capitol Hill and $28 for a trip that should have cost $6.15 from the airport to an address on Rhode Island Avenue NW.
Although he signed a receipt on April 15 for one certified letter of notification, the commission order said Akinrotoye failed to appear at the hearing scheduled for May 14. The hearing was held without him, with testimony from two passengers and one transit commission staff member.
In its order, the commission forbade Akinrotoye from driving an interstate cab in the Washington area and ordered proceedings in U.S. District Court to enforce that ban.
It also suggested that the District government suspend or revoke Akinrotoye's hacker's permit and directed the commission staff to "bring a criminal complaint before the [D.C.] corporation counsel. . . for prosecution" of Akinrotoye in Superior Court.