City Desk

Alleged Taxicab Scammer on Tape!

Looking for the real goods on the feds' probe into corruption in the D.C. tax industry? Just click below, and you'll get an audio feed of some priceless undercover law-enforcement work.

But before you click, let us just set the scene for you.

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

The main parties on the recording are two central figures in the investigation. First is Leon Swain Jr.—he's the chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission who was approached a long time back with bribes in exchange for taxi-related favors. Instead of taking them, he went to the federal authorities and volunteered to play informant/sting man. For doing the honorable thing, the guy is getting feted all around town, including on the pages of the Washington Post.

The other is Yitbarek Syume. Now, Syume strikes a radically different profile. He is a huge target of the investigation, someone the feds are accusing of playing a pretty beefy role in this whole scheme.

As the discussion on this tape goes down, Syume clearly does not know that Swain is a federal informant who's wired up something fierce. And given how expertly Swain plays the role, you can see how Syume would never expect as much.

Also consider the immediate background of the discussion: The day before Swain and Syume are talking, Ted Loza, chief of staff to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, was arrested for allegedly accepting bribes to influence taxi-regulation legislation.

Happy listening.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • Pingback: Why the Peaceoholics Thrive: Loose Lips Daily - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • Pingback: How Is Causton Toney Connected to the Taxi Probe? - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • Pingback: Alleged Taxicab Scammer on Tape (Audio) at Tadias Magazine

  • M. Awel

    Are you really Ethiopian or lived at least for few years in Ethiopia? We Ethiopian have a large diversities in religions but we love each other irrespective of which ever religion you are following and from whichever tribe you are from. Dear brother, Islam is to mean peace in meaning so don't run to trough your poisonous words and go back to Ethiopia and try to see how people with different religion are living together.

  • Mula anbesawe

    Thanks to FBI and washington citypaper for helping and protect the poor Cab driver from corrupted and money hungers city officials by the name of the law,till cab drivers have worried and says, are they going to do something to day or tommorro are they going to make us out of bussines and so please, don't let them this people to do wherever they want by the name of the LAW.
    CITY OFFICIALS AND GOVERMENT EMPLOYS should server and help all citizen the right way instade of working at the back door.

  • Truth Hurts

    There are troubling references to Graham on this tape. Pretty sure I heard something like: "What about Graham? Is he ok? (ie, is he going to snitch) No, Graham's good. (ie, he'll keep quiet). Not an exact quote, but seems to me Graham's very much in the crosshairs of the Feds.

  • Pingback: Welcome to EthioSun | Uncategorized Alleged Taxicab Scammer on Tape! - Source of Ethiopian News & Non Neutral Opinion

  • Aberra: Daniel and Kamus…

    As I went through reading this historic conspiracy to bribe public makes me wonder whether a genuine and objective case-by-case analysis. I also wondered the courage of "City Paper" writers and editors to go and interview or invite Daniel belayeneh to comment on the case. Keep in mind that Mr. Kamus is intellectually well prepered and has broad expereince in regard to communinty organization, even though it does not make him a community organizer. Mr. Kamus's level of leading and advocating for the integration of ethiopians into the new culture, American culture is poor. His strong connection with the Current Ethiopian government does not make give "free ride" to become a community leader, which he has never been. Both daniel and Kamus are the same and one in their perception of community organizing.
    However, Kamus's decision to be FBI informat is just great because it is like engaging to cleane crime. I hope Mr. Kamus's office is free from Corruption and nepotism.
    The City Paper office should be fully aware that comments of Daniel Belayeneh is bias. He does not desreve to be executive director of... because he is incompetent of being and doing, and intellectually poor. For the last several years I closely observed how their office look like; how they manage; how inform people; etc. if some one argue that it not true, just make your study. Good luck.

  • Pingback: Accused Taxi Briber Will Stay in Jail, Judge Says - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • Pingback: Was Leon Swain Jr. Too Good At Playing The Criminal? - City Desk - Washington City Paper

  • Paulos


    So what has really happened to Ethiopian-Americans politics and the so-called politicians? Did we really lose our traditional morality? No, we were the victims of our own backward politics and untrained politicians we chose and trusted to lead us. It’s a sign of our spiritual and moral decay that we expect so much as a people from politics, selfish and power hungry politicians like Ayele Chamiso, Lidetu and now, Hailu Shawul who betrayed us and that we are so much less capable of seeing through their obvious and self-serving machinations.

    I believe that this stems from the decline of the Christian religion; without some hope in the next world and some balanced sense of the human good in light of eternal life, politics assumes exaggerated importance. It becomes the only hope of community, human unity, the alleviation of pain and suffering and injustice. We do not only put too much faith in politicians but also blindly followed individuals like them as cults and forget that it’s a prosaic task often undertaken by venal people. Our nation is tainted with crimes against God and humanity where human rights are systematically violated, resulting in the disappearance and death of over 6,000,000 Ethiopians since TPLF seized power without being elected by the people & for the people of Ethiopia. It was winner takes all auction or political theft made between the dictatorial Derg regime and TPLF Bandits. We cannot anymore stand as mere spectators of dismal and flagrant display of historical failures to bring a very genuine social, economic and political reforms in Ethiopia. The lying politicians especially like Lidetu and Hailu and their media talking heads and the I know-it-all commentators or writers who supported them are tying to confuse the issue, to justify their ideological and practical impotence, their immorality, which has allowed a continuous rain of betrayals without any serious attempt to end it immediately and by all means. It is now, Zemene GrimbiT indeed!

    Their reaction shows how the perversion of moral values in Ethiopia and in the Diasporas has reached such a level that Ethiopian citizens are treated as cannon fodder, as peons to be used and transferred at will, peons in an immoral political process of sheer surrender in the face of TPLF’s state terrorism, of concessions, appeasement and self-destruction. Only a very harsh response to every attack against us a very painful and bloody response against the other side – can decrease the other side's appetite to attack us and can save human lives.Mr. Solomon and his partner Mrs. Ethiopia have a lot of experience so they always make a sensible decision.