Darien banker seeks court trial in hate crime case
STAMFORD -- The Morgan Stanley executive accused of committing a hate crime against a taxi driver during a fare dispute in Darien waived his right to a jury trial Tuesday and wants a judge to decide his case.
Eugene Riccio, the attorney for William Jennings, the 47-year-old investment banker from Darien charged in the dispute, said a date hadn't yet been set for the court trial. Riccio waived his client's right to a jury trial during a hearing at state Superior Court in Stamford before Judge Richard Comerford.
"We're seeking the quickest possible avenue to a trial of this matter," Riccio said.
The case was continued to May 25.
Jennings, who has been placed on administrative leave from his job as co-head of fixed income and capital markets for Morgan Stanley in Manhattan, is facing charges of second-degree intimidation based on race or bigotry, second-degree assault and theft of services relating to the Dec. 22 dispute with the New York City taxi driver.
Jennings is free on $9,500 bond, which he posted following his Feb. 29 arrest by Darien police.
Based on an investigation and statements from the taxi driver, Darien authorities accused Jennings of cutting the cabbie's hand with a pen knife during the dispute and yelling, "I'm going to kill you, you should go back to your country!"
Jennings has denied the charges and pleaded not guilty. He claimed he was the victim of an attempted abduction and acted out of fear for his safety when the driver sped away with him in the backseat. Jennings claimed the driver tried to charge him $300 for a ride from Manhattan and drove off when he refused.
The driver, however, told police that he and Jennings agreed on the set-rate of $204, and that Jennings became abusive after refusing to pay that amount when they arrived at his Darien home.
Darien detectives became skeptical of Jennings' account and said they discredited his description of the alleged assault before obtaining his arrest warrant.
Riccio is still pursuing a motion to dismiss the charges, which he filed in late March.
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