Taxi and Limousine Commission inspector Mark Dubose, impounding a van in Queens, spots the loose change sitting in the vehicle’s console in footage caught by a windshield cam.
For the price of a Starbucks coffee — $2.50 — a veteran taxi inspector has lost his $46,160-a-year job and is facing the loss of a pension worth more than $500,000.
Taxi and Limousine Commission inspector Mark Dubose was accused of stealing loose change from a van he was impounding in Queens after he was caught in the act by a camera installed on the vehicle’s windshield.
Zachariah Hamilton, the owner of the van — which Dubose was impounding last year as part of a crackdown on illegal commuter shuttles — reported the theft to the TLC after capturing the footage on his laptop via a satellite feed.
“The video evidence was indisputable and compelling,” Administrative Law Judge Ingrid Addison declared in 13-page decision that recommended Dubose’s firing.
He got the ax Aug. 17.
Eric Sanders, Dubose’s lawyer, called the decision a grave miscarriage of justice.
“He’s going to risk his whole 23-year career for $2.50?” Sanders asked. “It was an innocent mistake. What ever happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt?”
Sanders said his client deposited the coins in an envelope and left it in his locker.
The amount was so inconsequential that Dubose forgot to file a voucher for it as required by TLC regulations and it’s probably still there today, he added.
Sanders also pointed out that Hamilton had claimed that $1,810 left in an unlocked glove compartment was missing when he retrieved the commuter van, which had been seized near 158th Street and Archer Avenue in Queens on Oct. 14.
“If he’s a thief, he [Dubose] should have stolen everything,” Sanders argued.
Authorities couldn’t determine what happened to the large packet of bills.
But the judge said she had no doubt Dubose was up to no good since he returned to the van two hours after dropping it off in “an attempt to disengage it [the video camera]. Thereafter, the recording went blank.”
Dubose told investigators he tried to remove the camera so he could secure it in the glove box.
The judge dismissed that explanation as “contrived.”
Sanders shot back that if his client was intent on committing a crime, he would have disabled the camera right away because it was “right in his face.”
Dubose, who had been promoted to lieutenant inspector in 2008, could now lose his pension, worth about $25,000 a year. Over 20 years, that’s a $500,000 hit.
Sanders said Dubose’s pension might be at risk.
TLC officials said that if Dubose files for his pension, it would be up to the pension system whether to grant it.
Sanders plans to appeal.
Ironically, he said, Dubose is the one who developed the program to seize commuter vans picking up passengers illegally at subway stops.