US

Uber Driver Pleads Guilty to Kidnapping Sleeping Passenger

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK—A man who drove for Uber in New York City pleaded guilty Monday to abducting a woman who fell asleep inside his vehicle and then leaving her on the side of a highway in Connecticut.

Harbir Parmar, 25, of Queens, faces up to life in prison after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to counts of kidnapping and wire fraud.

The kidnapping happened in February 2018 after the woman requested a ride from Manhattan to her home in White Plains, New York, about an hour away.

Prosecutors said Parmar changed her destination to an address in Boston, Massachusetts, after she fell asleep. The woman told authorities she awoke to Parmar groping her in the back seat, reaching under her shirt.

The woman reached for her phone, according to federal court papers, but Parmar took the device from her and continued driving. He refused the woman’s request to take her to a police station and eventually left her on the side of Interstate 95 in Branford, Connecticut, about an hour’s drive from her home.

Authorities said the woman memorized Parmar’s license plate and called a cab from a nearby convenience store.

Uber told The Associated Press last year that it blocked Parmar from using its app after the kidnapping. The company said it fully cooperated with law enforcement.

Parmar also pleaded guilty to wire fraud for overcharging riders by inputting false information about their destinations. Prosecutors said the fraud amounted to thousands of dollars.

Parmar is scheduled to be sentenced June 24.

Phony Uber Driver With Unconscious Woman in Car Arrested

An Alabama man is charged with kidnapping by pretending to be an Uber driver to pick up a university student who was found unconscious in the back seat of his car, police said Monday.

Investigators found multiple images on the driver’s cellphone of at least one other college-aged woman who appeared unconscious in the vehicle, said Capt. Gary Hood, commander of the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit.

Tommy Beard, 61, was released on bond Friday on a first-degree kidnapping charge, court records show. The records don’t list an attorney for him, and calls to a phone number listed for him in those records went unanswered.

“It’s alarming, absolutely,” Hood said.

“He had a fake Uber sign that he bought online, and he admitted that he wasn’t an Uber driver,” Hood added.

Various Uber decals and lights for vehicles—many featuring the Uber logo—were available Monday on Amazon.com. A representative for Amazon said late Monday she was looking into the matter.

Uber LED signs were also available Monday through Walmart.com. Walmart representatives didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Hood said Beard picked up the 22-year-old woman near the University of Alabama campus and drove her about 7 miles away. A deputy noticed a car alongside the road and stopped to investigate, which led to his arrest March 2. Court records say the woman remembers being at a bar in Tuscaloosa but nothing else until the deputy woke her up.

A loaded handgun was found in Beard’s vehicle, but he had a legal permit for it, Hood said.

As he was taken to jail, Beard wore a T-shirt that said, “So when’s this ‘old enough to know better’ supposed to kick in?” video from The Tuscaloosa News shows.

Hood advises Uber users to arrange their rides through the company’s app, since it has certain safety features built-in. Users are given the driver’s name and a description of the vehicle before they get inside, for instance.