Connecticut prosecutors dropped the charges against William Bryan Jennings, the former Morgan Stanley U.S. bond-underwriting chief accused of stabbing a New York cab driver over a fare.
Supervisory State’s Attorney Steven Weiss said today at a hearing in Stamford that the case was dropped because the knife Jennings allegedly used was held back from prosecutors for five months by the cab driver.
“I simply can’t go forward with a case where I have the victim withholding evidence from the police,” Weiss told Superior Court Judge Kenneth Povodator.
Jennings was accused of attacking the driver, Mohamed Ammar, on Dec. 22 with a 2 1/2-inch blade after a 40-mile (64 kilometer) ride from New York to the banker’s $3.4 million home in Darien, Connecticut. Ammar, a native of Egypt and a U.S. citizen, said Jennings told him, “I’m going to kill you. You should go back to your country,” according to a police report.
Jennings faced assault and hate-crime charges, each of which brings a maximum sentence of five years in prison. He was also charged with not paying the fare, a misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty March 9.
“Mr. Ammar had ample opportunity to tell the police” that he had the knife, Weiss said today. He said he didn’t see any public interest in arresting Ammar for withholding evidence.
Ammar’s attorney, Hassan Ahmad of Ahmad Navqi Rodriguez LLP in New York, declined to comment on the case.
Jennings was in court with his attorney, Eugene Riccio, for today’s hearing. He didn’t speak during the six-minute proceeding.
“I feel good,” he told reporters afterward. “The outcome speaks for itself.”
Jennings flagged Ammar down in front of Ink48, a hotel on Manhattan’s West Side, sometime before 11 p.m. after the banker said his car service didn’t appear, according to the police report. Jennings had been attending a company Christmas party.
Ammar told police that once they reached Jennings’s home, he refused to pay the $204 fare they had agreed on. He said he drove away to find police and that during the ride the banker stabbed him in the hand. Jennings said that they never agreed on an amount and that Ammar had demanded $294, which he viewed as exorbitant.
Jennings no longer works at New York-based Morgan Stanley, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter who declined to be named because the information isn’t public.
Mary Claire Delaney, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman, declined to comment on today’s proceeding.
On March 28, Jennings filed a motion seeking to have the case dismissed, arguing that Ammar contradicted himself in statements to the police. The arrest warrant contained false statements and omissions that “seriously undermine” Ammar’s credibility, according to the filing by Jennings.
Riccio said today that the decision not to prosecute was correct.
“It’s unfortunate when someone of prominence is arrested and the public and the press jump to conclusions,” the lawyer said. He declined to comment on possible civil claims against his client.
The case is State of Connecticut v. Jennings 12-0176761, Superior Court for the State of Connecticut (Stamford).