New York Uber driver faces kidnapping charges

Posted at 3:33 PM, Oct 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-17 17:33:08-04

A New York woman who hailed an Uber one night in February ended up stranded more than 50 miles from home after her driver groped her and took her phone, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

When she got home, she found she’d been charged $1,047.

The driver, Harbir Parmar, faces charges of kidnapping and wire fraud, as detailed in a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in the Southern District of New York.

“Parmar kidnapped, terrorized and assaulted the woman before dumping her on the side of an interstate,” US Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said Tuesday.

“No one — man or woman — should fear such an attack when they simply hire a car service.”

According to prosecutors, the woman — who is unnamed in court documents — hailed a late-night Uber in Manhattan to get home to White Plains, some 30 miles north.

On the way, she told police, she fell asleep in the back seat of Parmar’s Toyota.

According to the complaint, she awoke to find the car stopped and Parmar in the back seat with her, his hand under her shirt and on her breast.

She told police that she reached for her phone to call for help, but, she said, the driver took the phone from her and repeatedly denied having it.

When Parmar eventually returned to the front seat and continued to drive, court documents say, the woman realized she didn’t know where they were.

She asked to be taken to White Plains, but told police Parmar refused. She asked to be taken to a police station, but again, Parmar refused.

Court documents indicate that 17 minutes after picking up the woman in Manhattan, Parmar changed her requested destination on his mobile app to a point in Massachusetts.

After more than two hours in the car, officials said, Parmar stopped along Interstate 95 outside of New Haven, Connecticut, and let her out. She made her way to a nearby convenience store, where the staff helped her call a taxi.

Parmar is not facing any charges related to the groping allegation. Nicholas Baise, a spokesman for the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, declined to comment on his office’s charging decisions. Baise also declined to comment on whether further charges could be forthcoming.

Parmar’s attorney, Susanne Brody, told CNN on Wednesday she had “no comment” on the matter.

An Uber spokesperson told CNN that Parmar was immediately blocked from the app in February.

“What’s been reported is horrible and something no person should go through,” the company said. “As soon as we became aware, we immediately removed this individual’s access to the platform. We have fully cooperated with law enforcement and will continue to support their investigation.”

The company also said the woman’s fare was fully refunded within days.

Prosecutors said Parmar used the app to enter false destinations on at least 11 occasions in order to inflate ride charges and defraud Uber passengers.

According to court documents, Parmar was out of jail on a $100,000 bond, contingent on his refraining from work as a livery or ride-share driver.

If convicted on federal kidnapping charges, Parmar could serve up to 20 years in prison.