Loose Lips

Key Figure in Cash Cab Investigation Released

Yitbarek Syume, the alleged mastermind behind a plot to increase his share of the D.C. taxicab market through cash gifts to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham's former chief of staff, is now a semi-free man. Syume was recently released from jail and put under electronic monitoring pending sentencing set for the beginning of next year, court records show.

Syume had been locked up for about two years, and was arrested shortly after telling former D.C. Taxicab Commission chairman Leon Swain that he planned to kill another one of his co-conspirators, Abdul Kamus, for working with the FBI.

Kamus pleaded guilty to a bribery charge earlier this year. His sentencing has been delayed as the U.S. Attorney's Office tries to figure out what to do about the three dozen or so would-be cabdrivers charged with trying bribe Swain in order to get under-the-table taxi operator's licenses. Several members of that group have already taken an extremely light plea deal on a misdemeanor charge of "attempted taking property without right" that came with punishments of six months of probation and a $50 fine.

The rest of the group is fighting the charges against them and is set to have a pow-wow with the USAO tomorrow. An attorney for one of the men fighting the charges says those men want a plea deal without any admission of guilt on the would-be cabdrivers' part. (Washington City Paper alum Jason Cherkis raised questions about the culpability of the men charged, many of whom are newly arrived Ethiopian immigrants.)

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