LONG ISLAND CITY — Federal officials charged three automotive parts suppliers with selling counterfeit replacement parts to repair shops that service New York City taxis, according to an officials said Tuesday.
Shashi Malhotra and Fadi Kilani of New Jersey and Richard Dininni of Pennsylvania are accused of repackaging generic car parts and passing them off as brand name goods in order to avoid federal safety standards, officials said.
The men supplied the knock-offs — which included items like brake pads and ignition coils — to an automotive parts distributor in Long Island City between Fall 2011 and this month, according to the indictment.
It was not clear how many of those parts made it on to taxis.
A group representing taxi drivers held a press conference Tuesday outside the Queens location, at 35-01 Vernon Blvd., to warn cabbies that parts supplied by the shop might be counterfeit.
"What's scary about this is we don’t know how many auto parts stores and how many medallion shops these people have supplied," said Fernando Mateo, spokesman for the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers.
"This is a very serious scam. This is a scam that could cause accidents, it could cost lives," he said.
David Yassky, who heads the Taxi and Limousine Commission, told the New York Post that the counterfeit parts don't pose a safety threat the the city's fleet of cabs, which undergo "frequent and exhaustive inspections," according to the paper.