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Taxi driver arrested after robbing passenger, police say

A cabdriver from Freeport was arrested Monday after he robbed a male passenger he had been hired to drive to Roosevelt, police said.

Brian Ortega, 24, of 351 Smith St., answered a call to pick up a 29-year-old man from in front of Mi Casita restaurant on Church Street in Freeport just before 2:30 a.m., Nassau County police said.

Instead of taking the passenger to his home on Harts Avenue, police said, Ortega "suddenly took the victim to another location," near Henry Street and Nassau Road in Roosevelt, and "demanded cash."

Police said Ortega then forcibly stole a wallet and cellphone from the victim, who then ran from the cab and called 911. Responding officers found Ortega at the headquarters of Taxi America on South Main Street in Hempstead and placed him under arrest. He was charged with third-degree robbery.

Ortega was arraigned Monday in First District Court in Hempstead and held pending bail of $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash. Ortega was represented by Legal Aid, which does not comment on cases.

With Ellen Yan

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