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Cabbie Mows Down Passengers In Fare Dispute; 1 Victim In Coma

A man is in a coma after a taxi driver ran over him in front of a police precinct in Midtown Manhattan early Sunday morning.

Cops say 22-year-old Anthony Loreto, Jr. and his friends Frank Lembo, Joe Hladki and Richard Kelly hailed a cab just before 4 a.m. on the corner of West 53rd Street and Sixth Avenue and asked the driver to bring them to their homes in The Bronx.

The cabbie, 27-year-old Mohammed Azam, apparently did not want to drive the men to the Bronx and claimed he would not make any money off their fare.

But, according to published reports, the men insisted they had cash and credit cards and would give the Azam a good tip.

Azam, instead, drove the group to the Midtown North police precinct on West 54th Street and told the men to exit his cab.

Officers told Azam, a medical student who drives part-time to pay for tuition, that it is illegal to refuse service.

The cabbie then jumped back to his vehicle and locked his doors before any of the men could get back inside.

As he rushed off, Azam backed into one of the men and sped forward, stricking Loreto and Lembo.

One of the victim's father, Anthony Loreto, Sr., said his son jumped on the hood of the cab so he would not be run over, and the cabbie drove nearly a block before turning left and flinging him from the car. Azam did not stop and fled the scene.

Loreto was transported to New York Hospital, where is in a medically-induced coma and suffers from a fractured skull. Witnesses say his leg was also twisted, according to reports, but cops at the nearby station house did not witness the hit-and-run.

The other two men struck by the taxi were also injured, but not as seriously as Loreto.

Loreto's father described his only son as a civil engineer, who recently graduated from Manhattan College.

Azam was arrested at his home in Queens Sunday night, and was charged with vehicular assault and leaving the scene of a crime. His taxi license was also suspended.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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