Brazilian cabbies allegedly asked for ‘whole package’

An alleged bribery scheme that has a veteran former San Francisco police officer facing criminal charges was common knowledge among Bay Area Brazilians who could not pass the written exam required to become a taxi driver, according to court documents.

The FBI first learned of “possible corruption by members of the San Francisco Police Taxi Detail” in 2007 when two members of the now-defunct Taxicab Commission introduced special agents to a confidential source, according to an arrest affidavit prepared by the Police Department.

That source said a Yellow Cab driver had paid Paul Makaveckas, a 36-year veteran officer who has since retired. Makaveckas is accused of being involved in a scheme with William Hancock to charge Brazilian taxi drivers who could not write in English to pass the SFPD exam.

It was “common knowledge” in the Brazilian community that Hancock had a relationship with Makaveckas and that he could help pass the required training for a $100 fee, according to the affidavit. Students allegedly had to go to Hancock’s driving school, Flag-A-Cab, and ask for the “whole package.”

FBI Special Agent Scott Springer set up an undercover sting in which three agents documented instances when Makaveckas reportedly ignored incorrect answers to questions for a bribe.

On March 10, 2009, the FBI confronted Hancock. In their interview, Hancock reportedly told agents that Makaveckas would collect envelopes of $100 bills, which he would then spend on dates with Brazilian women.

Hancock told agents that Makaveckas “became greedier and told Hancock to provide more candidates to pay the $100 fee,” the affidavit said. “Hancock added that Makaveckas would intentionally fail candidates in order to get him to pay his fee.”

Later that day, investigators confronted Makaveckas after he allegedly took an envelope containing $500 from Hancock. They say he admitted to taking money to give easier versions of the taxi exam.

Makaveckas reportedly told investigators he would use the money to “put a tank of gas in my car” or give the money to “homeless people on the streets.”

Makaveckas’ attorney, Randy Knox, would not comment on the specifics of the case, but said his client was a dedicated officer who is innocent until proven guilty.

“If you were to ask the overwhelming majority of cab drivers in this town what they think about him, they would say he’s a very helpful guy who’s incapable of corruption,” Knox said.

It is still unclear how many cab drivers were involved in the scheme.

Makaveckas and Hancock are expected in court Tuesday.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocalSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference about a $12 billion package bolstering the state’s response to the homelessness crisis at the Kearney Vista Apartments on May 11, 2021 in San Diego, California. (K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
Newsom promises sweeping change in California’s $267-billion budget

John Myers Los Angeles Times California would embark on the most ambitious… Continue reading

San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott leaves the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Brannan Street and Jack London Alley in the South Park area on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chief Scott issues rare apology to man shot by SF police

Officer says he ‘did not intend for his firearm to go off’

Despite the pandemic, San Francisco has ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Better than expected tax revenues leave city with $157.3M surplus for this year

As the fiscal year nears an end and Mayor London Breed prepares… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Most Read