Stukes hopes to find passengers who swindled him out of $20

2 women `disrespected' office, councilman says

February 27, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore councilman who was swindled out of $20 after giving two women a ride is pursuing a police investigation to find the culprits, saying they "disrespected my office and the people who elected me."

Melvin L. Stukes, a 6th District Democrat, said the women told him they would pay him $4 for a ride home Sunday afternoon but told him they needed to get change first. He gave them $20 to change, and the two took off and "never returned," a police report filed Monday says.

"I let my guard down, and I got had," Stukes said Tuesday. "I got hustled. It was something I shouldn't have done."

City police said the investigation remains open. Stukes said he did not know the women's names, and a surveillance video shot in a grocery store where he met them is too grainy to be of use.

The police report filed by Southern District Officer Helena Mills says the chances of solving are "poor at this time."

Stukes was in the checkout line at the Safeway supermarket in the 1200 block of W. Pratt St. when he overheard the women asking "if there were any persons hacking at that location," the report said. Hacking is a practice in which rides are exchanged for money. It is illegal in Baltimore for anyone but licensed cab or sedan drivers.

According to the report, Stukes told the women, described as being in their early 20s, he would give them a ride, and the women told him they would pay $4.

Stukes denied that he was "hacking" and said he wanted to give them a ride for free. At first they wanted to go to the 1800 block of W. Baltimore St. They then asked to go to the 3200 block of W. Franklin St., he said.

At their destination, Stukes said the women "insisted they were going to pay me and asked for some change." He said he gave them $20, which he never saw again. "I made a mistake of giving them money," he said.

Stukes said he considered forgetting about the incident but decided to pursue it with police because he had told the women he was a city councilman and considered the theft an assault on his office.

"That angered me," he said.

Pub Date: 2/27/99

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