A volunteer who drives patients to New York City hospitals at no charge found himself punished for his good deed on Monday, when an agent stopped him on suspicion of illegally operating a driving service.
Yeshaya Liebowitz, 25, was reportedly shuttling two women, one of whom was a cancer patient, to hospitals as part of the Jewish charity Chesed on Monday.
Liebowitz said that when he was stopped by a Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) agent, he tried explaining that he was not part of a car service.
“I tried to explain to him that I drive people to the hospital. I don’t do it for money – I pay the tolls, I pay for gas, I pay my time,” Liebowitz said.
The woman in his car also tried explaining to the officer that she is a cancer patient and that she needed to get to the hospital; the agent, however, ignored them.
The agent reportedly told Liebowitz and the two women to get out of the car. Not only was Liebowitz then slapped with a $2,000 fine, but his vehicle was also taken from him.
The agent who issued the ticket allegedly stated that the two women had discussed how much they would pay for fare before getting into the car.
Yeshiva World News, however, reported that the agent’s statement was “an outright lie, as both women have never before seen this TLC Police Officer, nor have ever communicated with anyone at the TLC in their lives.
“They were simply stopped because the officer saw a Chasidic male driver, with two females in the backseat, which may seem as if it was a car service with the vehicle not properly having TLC Plates,” Yeshiva World News continued.
The women had to wait for another Chesed volunteer to pick them up and drive them to their appointments.
One of the women that Liebowitz was driving noted that “it’s hard for people to understand that people do good. [Liebowtiz] just did this out of the kindness of his heart.”
City Councilman David Greenfield has asked that the TLC investigate the incident and the allegations that the officer lied “about the circumstances of impounding this vehicle.”
“It’s astonishing that any law enforcement official can be so callous as to leave two cancer patients stranded on the way to the hospital,” Greenfield noted.
According to the Daily News, Liebowitz’s fine was later dropped and his car was returned. The situation was reportedly labelled “a misunderstanding.”