Woman who snatched cellphone of Sen. Wiener accused of robbing cab drivers

A woman who made news for snatching a city supervisor’s cellphone is back behind bars, this time for allegedly sticking up cab drivers, San Francisco police announced Wednesday.

Lasonya Wells, 44, has been in and out of jail since she was convicted of extortion in the December 2015 robbery of state Sen. Scott Wiener, who was then a member of the Board of Supervisors.

She was accused of stealing Wiener’s cellphone near 16th and Mission streets before escorting him to an ATM and giving his phone back in exchange for cash.

At the time, defense attorneys argued that the case raised issues around race and class in the criminal justice system, accusing prosecutors of overcharging Wells because of her social status and that of her victim.

After striking a plea deal in 2017, Wells, who is said to have struggled with drug addiction and homelessness, told the Guardian that she hoped to turn her life around upon her release from jail.

But she was arrested again for an alleged robbery in 2018, the San Francisco Chronicle reported at the time. And now, Wells has found herself back in trouble with the law.

Wells was booked into jail March 18 in connection with two cases — the alleged armed robberies of a taxi cab driver in the Mission and of a man using an ATM near 16th Street and Potrero Avenue.

The taxi driver told police he was robbed by two women who had hailed his cab, one of whom was armed and threatened him.

Wells was apparently released from jail on bail after the arrest, because authorities say she tried to hold up another cabbie April 29 in Potrero Hill. The driver did not give her cash, police said.

Wells was identified as the suspect, and on the morning of May 6, police arrested her in the Mission. She was allegedly in possession of a replica firearm and pepper spray at the time.

For Cmdr. Raj Vaswani, who heads the Investigations Bureau, Wells is “another repeat offender, continuing a life of crime.”

“Very interesting media coverage from her prior crimes,” Vaswani said in a tweet. “This time she was victimizing cab drivers that are already hurting with the downturn in business.”

But Max Breecker, the deputy public defender assigned to her case, offered a more sympathetic view of Wells.

“We are thankful that it appears no one was physically hurt in these incidents,” he said. “Our office has worked with Lasonya Wells over the years and we know that she is well-loved by her support network.”

Wells has been charged with a count of felony attempted robbery in connection with the most recent incident, according to Alex Bastian, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office.

She is being held at County Jail without bail after the office filed a detention motion against her, Bastian said.

The office also filed a motion to detain Wells without bail after charging her with two counts of robbery over her initial arrest, but a judge set bail instead, Bastian said.

Wiener did not respond to a request for comment.

Wells is due back in court June 22.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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