"Kamus Will Be Eliminated Soon": Taxi Bribery Defendant

Judge agreed to hold Syume without bond

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCWashington

    Alleged death threats against a government informant convinced the judge in the taxi bribery case to keep the main defendant in jail, without bond.

    The first set of secretly recorded conversations was played before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in court Thursday. But she told prosecutors that she needed more evidence to keep Yitbarek Syume in jail and they presented that evidence Friday.

    Tapes Reveal Death Threats, More in Taxi Bribery Case

    [DC] Tapes Reveal Death Threats, More in Taxi Bribery Case
    Prosecutors say the suspect is talking about murder. (Published Friday, Oct 9, 2009)

    During the conversation that was played in court Thursday, Syume tells D.C. Taxicab Commission chairman Leon Swain and an undercover FBI agent posing as Swain's nephew that he [Syume] is going to "eliminate [Abdulaziz] Kamus."

    The day before the meeting, which took place in a Southeast Washington parking lot, D.C. Councilman Jim Graham's chief of staff, Ted Loza, was arrested and Kamus' role as an undercover informant was revealed.

    Syume, whose voice is not as clear as Swain's on the tapes, does not seem happy with Kamus and tells Swain that Kamus will be eliminated.

    Syume: "This one I will eliminate, you'll see. Kamus will be eliminated soon...soon!"

    Swain: "Where is he at now? Permanently?"

    Syume: "Permanently I will eliminate him. Don't worry, but be strong.."

    Swain: "I'm going to be as strong as you are."

    Prosecutor John Crabb noted that in prior telephone conversations (one of “thousands” recorded, Crabb said) that Syume had threatened to “put a bullet in Mr. Kamus’ head” and had made “veiled-type threats” against Swain, Washington City Paper reported.

    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