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Massive taxi 'scam' may be erroneous

NEW YORK (AP) -- Fewer New York City taxi drivers overcharged their passengers than previously believed because some were likely only fumbling with the buttons on the meter for a moment after the trip was over, officials said Monday.

The head of the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission told the City Council during a budget hearing that "a fairly significant number" of the 1.8 million trips thought to be overcharged did not appear to be upon closer examination of the data.

"It may have simply been a mistake by the driver," said TLC commissioner Matthew Daus.

The TLC said earlier that it had stumbled upon what appeared to be one of the largest taxi scams ever, in which some 35,558 drivers overcharged passengers within city limits by using a higher rate code designated for trips to the suburbs.

But on one of the three models of meters used by New York City taxis, the button to activate the higher rate code is right next to the button the driver pushes to end the trip. Officials believe many drivers were likely reaching for the "end trip" button next to the one that activates the higher rate code.


Suspect is sought in political vandalism

ROCHESTER (AP) -- Authorities are trying to find out who threw bricks through windows and doors at two Democratic Party offices in Rochester before Sunday's health care vote.

Monroe County Democratic Committee officials said a brick shattered glass doors at the party's headquarters in Rochester on Saturday or Sunday. No one was in the building at the time. Rochester police are investigating.

A brick was thrown through a window at Democratic Rep. Louise M. Slaughter's district office in Niagara Falls early Friday.

Slaughter's district stretches from Rochester to the Buffalo area.

She has been a key supporter of the health care reform bill passed Sunday by the House and her name was attached to a controversial parliamentary maneuver that was under consideration as a means of passing the bill. It was never used.


Police officer injured before gunman is killed

NEW YORK (AP) -- A gunman who had barricaded himself in the bedroom of his mother's apartment opened fire on police responding to a 911 call Monday, seriously injuring one officer before he was killed.

Officer Robert Salerno, 21, was hit at least three times and was in stable condition, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. He was hit twice in the abdomen, and his bullet-resistant vest stopped one bullet.

"We have every hope that he's going to survive," said Kelly.

The shooting occurred around noon Monday at a housing project after a home health care aide called 911 to say her client's son had a gun and had slapped her. Salerno and three other officers responded. The son, Santiago Urena, was in the back bedroom and opened fire on police as they entered, Kelly said.

Officers returned fire, but retreated to get Salerno to a hospital. Urena, 55, was later found dead in the apartment with a gunshot wound to the head, thought it wasn't clear whether police gunfire or a self-inflicted wound killed him, Kelly said.

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