Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Hero" Cab Driver Admits to Attempted Rape

An Elmhurst cab driver who was involved last year in a plot to abandon a baby has pleaded guilty to the attempted rape of a 23-year-old passenger in March.

Klever Sailema, 46, of 41st Avenue was arrested in March after the woman told police he tried to rape her in the backseat of his cab on March 2 near the area of 28th Avenue and 37th Street in Astoria. The victim hailed the cab at about 1 a.m. and fell asleep before awaking to find Sailema on top of her with her pants and underwear pulled down. She began screaming and punching Sailema, before grabbing his hack registration and a photo of him and fleeing the vehicle.

The victim was taken to a local hospital where she was treated for injuries sustained during the attempted rape. Sailema was arrested and held in jail on $50,000bail for the past four months before pleading guilty last week to attempted first-degree rape. Acting Queens Supreme Court Justice Joseph Grosso indicated he would sentence Sailema to five-and-a-half years in state prison and seven years post-release supervision in August.

As a convicted sex offender, Sailema will have to register with the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, which will place his name in the Sex Offender Registry database.

“The offense to which the defendant has admitted is a crime of violence that poses a serious threat to public safety and, as such, warrants punishment by a prison term,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Sailema made headlines in February 2008, when he was called a hero after dropping off a six-month-old baby at a Corona firehouse. He told authorities that a passenger had left the girl in the backseat of his cab, but later admitted to being involved in the plot to abandon the baby. Charges against Sailema in that case were eventually dismissed.

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