Banker due back in court in cabbie hate crime case

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 12, 2012 9:28 AM
Banker due back in court in cabbie hate crime case

By Michelle Conlin

STAMFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - William Bryan Jennings, the Morgan Stanley investment banker accused of a hate crime in the stabbing of an Egyptian-born taxi driver over a fare, was due back in a Connecticut court on Thursday.

The charges against Jennings, who was placed on leave from his job as co-head of U.S. bond underwriting the day of his February 29 arrest, stem from a December 2011 incident when Jennings got into a cab in New York City after drinking at a Morgan Stanley holiday party.

According to authorities, taxi driver Mohamed Ammar, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen, had agreed with Jennings on a fare of $204 before leaving Manhattan for Jenning's home in the wealthy town of Darien, Connecticut, about 40 miles away.

But an hour later, upon reaching the driveway of Jennings' $2.7 million mansion, a fight erupted inside the cab. Darien Police say Jennings began threatening Ammar and used racial slurs. They say Jennings then brandished a pen knife from his briefcase and stabbed Ammar in the hand, a wound that required six stitches.

Jennings pleaded not guilty on March 9 in Superior Court in Stamford, Connecticut, to charges of intimidation as a hate crime, theft and assault. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison.

He was due back in court for a status hearing.

On March 29, Jennings' lawyer, Eugene Riccio, asked a judge to toss out the criminal case against his client on the grounds that the taxi driver "told a completely different story" to police on separate occasions about the taxi ride. Riccio argued that Ammar was inconsistent in his descriptions of the events contradicted himself on several occasions.

In one example Riccio cites in his motion to dismiss, on the night of the incident Ammar did not mention to police that Jennings had used a racial slur. He only brought it up, Riccio argues in his brief, a week later.

Jennings may also face a civil suit from Ammar. Hassan Ahmad, Ammar's attorney, said, "Our client wants Mr. Jennings to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

Morgan Stanley spokesman Pen Pendleton declined to comment, other than to say Jennings remains on leave.

(Editing By Barbara Goldberg)