Thursday, February 26, 2009

New York Judge Throws Out Case Against Amtrak Employee Over Shoe Incident

Judge throws out case against Amtrak employee who threatened to throw shoe at MTA chief

By Michael E. Miller
Tuesday, February 24th 2009, 1:23 AM

Stephen Millies outside Midtown Community Court on Monday.
If the shoe doesn't fit, you must acquit.

A Midtown Community Court judge threw out the case against Stephen Millies, the Amtrak employee so outraged with potential MTA fare hikes that he threatened to throw his shoe at MTA Director Elliot Sander in December.

"Case dismissed," Millies said, smiling as he left the courtroom yesterday. The disorderly conduct charge against him was quickly dropped on a technicality - the ticket says he disrupted a "religious ceremony" - leaving the 55-year-old free to once again take aim at the MTA.

"This is a shoe of contempt," Millies said, pointing to the same black Oxford he brandished before being dragged out of the MTA board meeting on December 17. Millies and several others who spoke at the public meeting expressed outrage over MTA plans to increase fares and cut services.

"We're in a recession. This is the worst time to raise fares," Millies said, calling the increase a "tax on working people." He said he was especially irked with proposed cuts to the city's Access-A-Ride program, which provides transportation for people with disabilities.

Millies bared his sole just three days after an Iraqi journalist hurled his loafers at then-President George W. Bush. Unlike his Iraqi counterpart, Millies wasn't beaten or imprisoned, but he was nabbed by undercover MTA police.

"When they gave me the bum's rush, I thought they were just going to take me out of the room," Millies said, adding that he never intended to throw his shoe at anyone.

Julie Fry, his lawyer, said the charges were "ridiculous" and violated Millies's right to freedom of speech.

"When you're speaking at a public hearing and they grab you from behind, that's going to intimidate others," she warned.

The MTA has proposed a 23% bus and subway fare hike, higher tolls and cuts in service in order to meet a projected $1.2 billion budget deficit for 2009, officials said last week.

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