Taxi Bribery Judge Wants to Hear More Threats

Prosecutors try to keep Syume jailed

By Asha Beh
|  Friday, Oct 9, 2009  |  Updated 3:45 PM EDT
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Taxi Bribery Judge Wants to Hear More Threats

The Washington Post

Yitbarek Syume

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A secretly recorded conversation that allegedly contains death threats against a government witness in the taxi bribery case was played in court Thursday. But it wasn't enough for the judge to make a decision on keeping the main suspect in jail.

After hearing the tapes, U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson said she had not heard enough evidence and continued the proceeding until this afternoon to give the government time to find and play tapes of Yitbarek Syume allegedly making other threatening statements, The Washington Post reported.

During the conversation, which happened the day after D.C. Council top aide Ted Loza was arrested, D.C. Taxicab Commission chairman Leon Swain starts out by asking Syume, "What the [expletive] happened? ...I thought this was your boy!"

At the meeting in a Southeast Washington parking lot, the men go on to talk about a Washington Post story on undercover informant, Abdulaziz Kamus. Swain, who has been working as an informant himself for the past two years, denies any role with the feds.

Syume, whose voice is not as clear as Swain's on the tapes, does not seem happy with Kamus. Before Swain ends the conversation, Syume, the alleged ringleader in the bribery case, says he is going to make sure that Kamus will be "permanently eliminated."

Judge Robinson said she'll give a final ruling today after hearing the additional tapes in which prosecutors claim Syume also threatens Kamus' life. 

Syume is one of 39 people indicted on charges they gave Swain more than $300,000 in bribes during a two-year period

Listen to the secretly recorded conversation here

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