City Paper is not for tourists
Looking for the real goods on the feds’ probe into corruption in the D.C. tax industry? Just click below, and you’ll get an audio feed of some priceless undercover law-enforcement work.
But before you click, let us just set the scene for you.
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The main parties on the recording are two central figures in the investigation. First is Leon Swain Jr.—-he’s the chairman of the D.C. Taxicab Commission who was approached a long time back with bribes in exchange for taxi-related favors. Instead of taking them, he went to the federal authorities and volunteered to play informant/sting man. For doing the honorable thing, the guy is getting feted all around town, including on the pages of the Washington Post.
The other is Yitbarek Syume. Now, Syume strikes a radically different profile. He is a huge target of the investigation, someone the feds are accusing of playing a pretty beefy role in this whole scheme.
As the discussion on this tape goes down, Syume clearly does not know that Swain is a federal informant who’s wired up something fierce. And given how expertly Swain plays the role, you can see how Syume would never expect as much.
Also consider the immediate background of the discussion: The day before Swain and Syume are talking, Ted Loza, chief of staff to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, was arrested for allegedly accepting bribes to influence taxi-regulation legislation.