Santiago Rossi is accused of robbing New York blind, one taxi ride at a time.

From behind the wheel of his taxi cab, the 66-year-old hack from Hollis, Queens, has overcharged at least 5,127 passengers, pocketing more than $11,000 in the last two years, prosecutors said.

Rossi is just one of 59 cabbies arrested yesterday for allegedly charging passengers the double-fare “suburban rate” while driving inside the city. Each accused driver allegedly pulled the con at least 300 times.

Forty-five hacks were charged with a first-degree felony. They each face up to four years in prison. The 14 others were charged with misdemeanors.

“With the imperceptible tap of a button, taxi riders went from trusting customers to the unwitting targets of a widespread con operation,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.

Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky added that he “simply cannot tolerate … those who abuse the privilege of their professional license.”

Bronx resident Mfamara Camara, 38, stole the biggest amount, more than $15,500 on 4,772 rides, according to the indictment. Neither Rossi nor his attorney could be reached by press time.

Honest cabbies yesterday said ripping off riders ends up hurting all the drivers.

“Usually, we’re known to be honest people. When something like this happens, then everyone’s in trouble,” said Mamadi Keita, 46, a driver since 1997.

The con drives some New Yorkers mad.

“It happened to me once, and I called the driver out on it,” said Darryl Jones, 33, of the Bronx. (With AP)


Inside city limits, look for a "1" to be displayed in the right-hand corner of the taxicab meter. If your cabbie has switched to the suburban rate, the meter will show a 4. When the cabbie switches, the display on the back of the seat will beep and flash a screen telling you that Rate Code 4 is active.

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