FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
For Information Contact:
District Man Sentenced to More Than 24 Years in Prison
For Series of Attacks Against Taxicab Drivers
- Defendant Targeted Drivers From Virginia and Maryland -
WASHINGTON - Emero Tornero, 31, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 24 years and three months in prison for a series of violent attacks that took place in 2008 against Maryland and Virginia taxicab drivers who were working in the District of Columbia, including one victim who was 78 years old, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.
Tornero was convicted by a jury in June 2011 of aggravated assault while armed against a senior citizen, assault with a dangerous weapon against a senior citizen and against taxicab drivers, carrying a dangerous weapon, destruction of property and other charges. The verdict followed a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Tornero was sentenced this morning by the Honorable Ann O’Regan Keary, who presided at trial. Upon completion of his prison term, Tornero will be placed on five years of supervised release.
According to the government’s evidence, Tornero made money by posing as a District of Columbia taxicab driver, although he did not have a license. To safeguard his own ability to make money this way, Tornero attacked several Maryland or Virginia taxicab drivers who he incorrectly believed were taking his business away in the District of Columbia.
Driving a D.C. taxi, Tornero targeted victims when they were especially vulnerable, at night, and usually when they were alone. Typically, he would pull up next to the victims’ cabs, make some remarks, and then reach out the door to slash the victims’ tires. When the victims would get out of their cars to inspect the damage, Tornero would assault them, with a knife or his car.
Tornero was convicted of a total of 13 offenses. The government presented evidence at trial that tied him to a series of crimes that included five attacks against four drivers on these dates:
- January 27, 2008: At about 4:50 a.m., Tornero pulled his vehicle next to that of a 78-year-old driver who had stopped his Maryland taxi at a traffic light at Connecticut Avenue and Columbia Road NW. Tornero accused the driver of picking up passengers in the District of Columbia and then slashed his tires. The Maryland taxi driver pulled away, but stopped after a short distance to check damage to his vehicle. At this point, Tornero either hit the driver with his car or came so close that the driver jumped out of the way and fell. The victim was taken to a hospital. He suffered a lung contusion, scalp laceration and broken rib.
- February 9, 2008: At about 2 a.m., Tornero pulled his vehicle next to a Maryland taxi driver who had just dropped off a passenger in the 1300 block of Connecticut Avenue NW. Tornero took out a knife and slashed the driver’s tires. When the driver got out of his car to inspect the damage, Tornero pointed the knife at the driver’s chest or stomach area.
- June 1, 2008: At about 3 a.m., Tornero pulled his vehicle next to a Maryland taxi driver at 18th and M Streets NW. Once again, he used a knife to slash the driver’s tires. The driver got out to inspect the damage, and Tornero pointed a knife at him. When the driver tried to walk away, Tornero pursued him in his vehicle – driving the wrong way down a one-way street and even following the victim onto the sidewalk.
- July 27, 2008: At about 11:50 p.m., Tornero pulled up behind a Virginia taxi at the intersection of 11th and N Streets NW, extended his arm, and smashed the taxi’s rear window.
- August 16, 2008: At about 4 a.m., Tornero once again came upon the driver of the Virginia taxi whose vehicle was damaged in the July incident. This time, in an attack at 17th and K Streets NW, Tornero veered his car straight at the Virginia taxicab, ramming it at the driver’s side door. Tornero backed up and hit the Virginia cab in the same place two more times before speeding off.
Tornero was arrested in March 2009 after his vehicle was spotted outside a hotel in Alexandria, Virginia. Police subsequently found him in the bathroom of a hotel room.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the outstanding efforts of those who investigated the case, including Detectives James Bovino, DeJuan Williams, and Kathy Jackson and Officers Brian Hungarter, Cameron Hawkins and Matthew Romeo, all of the Third District of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). He also commended the work of Detective Sean Casey, of the Alexandria, Va. Police Department.
U.S. Attorney Machen also acknowledged the efforts of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jamila Hodge, Emily Miller, Jonathan Hooks and Anthony Saler; Jennifer Clark, David Foster and Katina Adams, of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit; Information Technology Specialists Josh Ellen, William Henderson, Paul Howell and Leif Hickling, and Paralegals Tameka Garcia, Kalisha Clark, Baretta Francis and Wanda Trice. Finally, he praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Maia L. Miller and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Klein, who tried the case.