Taxis wait to pick up passengers outside Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport...

Taxis wait to pick up passengers outside Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport in 2019. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nine taxi dispatchers are accused of taking bribes so cabdrivers could cut the often long lines to pick up passengers at Kennedy Airport, prosecutors said Monday.

The dispatchers were arraigned in Queens County Criminal Court on Monday on charges that include second-degree commercial bribe receiving, prosecutors said in a statement.

“As if the challenges of making a living as a yellow cab driver were not already enough, the cabbies at JFK had to overcome greed and corruption in their effort to put food on the table for themselves and their families,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in the statement.

At the airport, taxi dispatchers oversee how yellow cabs move from a central holding lot to different terminal pickup areas to help avoid congestion and ensure passengers can access a taxi, the release said.

Taxis can leave the holding area in the sequence through which they arrived, prosecutors said. The dispatcher at a terminal pickup area preserves the order when channeling a fare to a taxi, they said.

However, the Port Authority got complaints in 2022 that some dispatchers were accepting bribes so that yellow cabdrivers could skip the wait in the central holding lot and pick up arriving passengers, the statement said.

An investigation found the nine defendants took a total of more than $12,000 in bribes from January 2022 to February 2024, the statement said. The payments were passed through either cash, Cash App or Zelle and were in small amounts, frequently less than $20 a trip.

A subcontractor retained by the Port Authority, which runs the airport, employs the defendants, the statement read. They are Adrian Grullon, 32, of Brooklyn; Yolanda Rodriguez, 67, of Laurelton, Queens; Jovane Johnson, 21, of Jamaica, Queens; Joseph Woodward, 56, of Brooklyn; Saeed Ahmed, 61, of Ozone Park, Queens; George Brown, 39, of Jamaica, Queens; Tuwayne Coley, 22, of Jamaica, Queens; Jairo Sarmiento, 23, of New Hyde Park; and Satesh Sooklall, 34 of Jamaica, Queens.

Attorneys for the defendants did not immediately return a request for comment. 

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