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Cab driver charged with faking robbery

March 18, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Martinsburg, W.Va. - A taxi driver was charged Wednesday morning with making up a story about being robbed and taking the cash himself, police allege.

Tracy Gene Rice, 27, of 420 W. King St., Martinsburg, was charged with petit larceny, making a false police/emergency report and destruction of property, all of which are misdemeanor charges.

Police spoke to Rice on March 11, after an employee of McCain Taxi, on East Martin Street, called to report that an employee had been robbed. Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. George Swartwood investigated the case.

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Rice gave a written statement to police, in which he said he picked up a man near the intersection of Elijah and West Burke streets. He said that after the man got inside the cab, he pulled a gun and said Rice would not be hurt if he took the man where he wanted to go. Rice said in the statement that on Moler Avenue the man took a blue City National Bank bag containing $177.50, pulled out the cab's microphone from the radio and fled on foot.

The following day Swartwood spoke to James Long, an employee of ET Auto Sales, who told police the company had repossessed Rice's personal car. A blue City National Bank bag was found beneath the driver's seat, Long told police.

Long said that Rice had called the car dealership and "expressed an interest in retrieving the said money bag," Swartwood wrote in records filed in Berkeley County Magistrate Court.

Rice was told that the bag probably had been thrown away when employees of the dealership cleaned out the car. It later was found in the garbage, police said.

On Tuesday, Swartwood went to Rice's home, where Rice agreed to give a follow-up interview at the police department.

Police ended up charging him.

Rice was being held in Eastern Regional Jail on $10,000 bail.

Conviction of charges of destruction of property and petit larceny each carry a sentence of up to a year in jail. Conviction of a charge of filing a false police/emergency report carries a sentence of up to six months in jail.

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