Paulino Rodriguez Credits CBS2 Report For Action By Agency

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn fruit store manager and employee received a public apology from the Taxi and Limousine Commission, after they claimed that they were victimized by overzealous inspectors.

As Ilana Gold reported, they have credited CBS2 for the resolution following a story last week.

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Paulino Rodriguez, a veteran employee at the All Fresh Supermarket in Williamsburg, picked up his van Tuesday from an impound lot in Queens.

“I’m happy that I have my car back,” Rodriguez said.

Last week, Rodriguez was not happy at all. As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported this past Friday, the TLC confiscated his van.

The agency accused him of running an illegal taxi service – something the agency now calls a misunderstanding.

“I was very mad,” Rodriguez said. “It’s the first time it happened to me, I didn’t know what to do.”

Rodriguez’s boss, manager Mayer Kohn, said he was just making a trip to restock his supply of bananas this past Thursday when he became ensnared in the nightmare courtesy of taxi inspectors.

He said he had Rodriguez, who has worked for him for 13 years, drive him to the nearby Pepe’s fruit wholesaler. But on the way back to his store, he was stopped by Taxi and Limousine Commissioners, who claimed Rodriguez was driving an illegal taxi.

The agency impounded the car and gave him a $2,000 ticket.

“I walked out with him, and he opened up the trunk to put in the bananas,” Kohn said.

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But the inspectors claimed they thought they saw Kohn hailing a cab – something for which Rodriguez has no license.

Both men maintained that Rodriguez did not drive a cab and never had. And even though they supposedly explained exactly what was happening to the inspectors, TLC still found enough evidence to take action and issue the ticket.

“It’s totally incorrect,” Rodriguez said.

This week, TLC reviewed this ticket and dropped the case after looking at all the circumstances, and a representative said CBS2’s initial coverage played a huge role in the decision.

“I have to thank to the community; to CBS Channel 2,” Rodriguez said.

TLC released a statement reading, “We sincerely apologize to Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Kohn for any inconvenience…we will continue working toward keeping the potential for misunderstandings to the absolute minimum.”

But neither was impressed.

“The apology is nothing,” Kohn said.

Kohn and Rodriguez said they need assurance that such a thing will not happen again.

TLC said inspectors have a tough job making determinations in the field, but most of the enforcement is appropriate and upheld when challenged.

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