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Jennings Pleads Not Guilty

William B. Jennings of Darien, a high-ranking Morgan Stanley executive charged with assault, larceny and intimidation by bias or bigotry in his dispute with a cab driver over the fare from Manhattan to Darien, today pleaded not guilty.

Morgan Stanley executive William B. Jennings pleaded not guilty Friday morning in state Superior Court in Stamford stemming from his violent dispute with a cabbie over taxi fare from New York to Darien, then walked out of the courthouse through a small scrum of reporters.

Jennings' "pro-forma not guilty" plea was given by his lawyer, Eugene Riccio in a hearing that came first on the docket and lasted only about 30 seconds. (The court system wants pleas made as soon as possible, but actual decisions on whether to plead guilty or innocent are almost always made after the initial hearing, and a change to a guilty plea is typically granted.)

Judge Robert L. Genuario, who signed the arrest warrant against Jennings on Feb. 17, gave the defendant a court date of April 12. By having Jennings go first, the court was able to empty seats in the courtroom used by reporters, who left when Jennings did.

Attired in a neat, dark suit and, on his face, a blank expression, Jennings walked out of the cavernous Stamford courtroom and into the hallway, where he ignored a reporter's pro-forma question about whether he would have any comment on the case. (His lawyer has been answering many questions from many reporters about the case, for days.)

As he left the building, he ignored the same pro-forma question from some of the dozen reporters and photographers. Just before entering the parking garage with his client, Riccio said they would have no comment at that time.

Jennings' arrest, which garnered news media attention in New York City and in the financial press, stemmed from a Dec. 21 incident in which he disputed the cab fare after a late night ride from Manhattan to his home on Knollwood Lane. The versions of the incident given by Jennings and the cab driver, Mohamed Ammar, differ widely on many points.

Both agree that after the cab stopped:

  • Ammar and Jennings disputed the fare.
  • Ammar then drove the cab with Jennings still in it, from where they were parked to downtown Darien.
  • Jennings took out a knife and got into a struggle with Ammar, resulting in Ammar being cut on his right hand.
  • The cab then stopped, and Jennings fled.
  • Ammar then drove a bit longer, then called Darien police. Jennings didn't call.
  • After news reports appeared in the local press about the incident, Jennings contacted police and eventually was arrested.

Where the two accounts differ

Ammar said he demanded $204 for the ride, which is the standard fare set by the city Taxi and Limousine Commission rate book. Jennings said Ammar demanded $294, and he offered $160, which is the rate he normally paid limousines to take him home.

The cab driver told police Jennings asked to be let out of the cab, but he said he would drive to the police station and was attempting to find it. Jennings said Ammar drove wildly through downtown Darien and threatened to take Jennings back to New York City with him.

According to Ammar, Jennings swore at him and said, "I'm going to kill you, you should go back to your own country!" Jennings denied he said either of those things. Ammar is an Egyptian immigrant and a U.S. citizen.

Ammar said Jennings tried to stab him in the head, and he used his right arm and hand to protect himself, getting cut in the process. Jennings said Ammar reached back and got cut grabbing the knife. Police said Ammar had cuts on his index finger and right hand, resulting in six stitches.

The cab stopped about 30 yards from the Darien Sport Shop, Jennings said, where he left it and went home. He didn't call police then or until much later because he was afraid Ammar might retaliate, knowing where Jennings lived.

Ammar's allegation that Jennings told him he should go back to his own country resulted in the second-degree intimidation by bias or bigotry charge.

When Darien police Detective Chester Perkowski asked Jennings why fear of Ammar didn't lead him to call police for protection, according to Perkowski's arrest warrant affidavit, "Jennings reply to that was he didn't know what to do, he just wanted the whole thing to go away."

Editor's notes: This article was continuously updated until 11:43 a.m. Friday.

Jennings' and Ammar's statements to police, along with the arrest warrant affidavit, have been posted with about the case.

sebastian dangerfield March 11, 2012 at 09:17 PM
David... I'm unaware of any substantiated charges or convictions of llyod blankfein...et al in a comment above. Could you possibly explain to the audience why certain unsubstantiated accusations are allowed to remain, while others are not? Eagle...I do not judge character by home size . That would be you. Sorry you can't see that. I judge character by what their philosophy is with respect to other human beings. It's your approach, for example to this case that leads me to my judgment of you. After asking you 4 times as to why you only look to poke holes in one of the two mens stories you chose not to address. That's because you have no defense. You have decided to vilify the banker only because of his house size. So, while you ironically leap to references to how others should not judge, unfortunately you can't escape the shackles of your own hatred. Or, if I'm wrong, I would have received a response articulating why only one man was worthy of your scrutiny. See how that works. I checked out the cell phone reception. It was 4 bars. You are good about doubting one guys claims...but only one. In both cases I am of the belief upon logical examination that there are holes. I don't excuse mr Jennings one iota. But as happens in heated situations often, irrational behavior takes over. To me I understand the cabbie reaction. I also understand Jennings. Both could have done things differently to have avoided this. I'm 100% sure jennings wants a do over
Dean Mulligan March 11, 2012 at 09:40 PM
Luca, you are sooo biased, do you think that the DPD is completely incompetent? ps: did you you the same cell phone brand a model as the driver? If not, your little test holds no water. Also, this whole cell phone thing is just blowing smoke by the ambulance chasers mentality. The man was being attacked with a knife.
David Gurliacci March 11, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Luca, you're right. That comment is now gone, too.
sebastian dangerfield March 12, 2012 at 12:36 AM
eagle -- honestly for the 7th time now--if i say that jennings is 60-80% at fault, how does that leave me sooo biased. This is not a rhetorical question....as were none of the previous questions. Each time you ask me something-I answer. each time i ask you something you have no legitimate response...so just one more time--why do you not want to poke holes in the cabbie story? Just some sort of explanation where i could understand that your entire purpose here is to go after a rich guy-would suffice. I am more than happy to find out where and when Im wrong--but , if someone asks 7 times with no answer it become relatively clear (in your sherlock holmes mentality) that there probably isnt a valid answer....so ---I once again sadly conclude that the only reason someone like you opines on this issue is that you find some sadistic joy in seeing a rich guy ' get his.' (and if i knew this guy was a total jerk, Id be standing right next to you-but you havent made that explanation--nor have you told me why the cabbie's claims are beyond question..so lets be honest-and just say, eagle that you dont like rich people and the size of the house is how you decide guilt or innocense, which i repeat is sad.
David Gurliacci March 12, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Thank you, everyone, for posting comments. This thread is now closed.

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