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May 14, 2012 6:41 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Charges Still Not Upgraded For Man Who Killed Cabbie

May 15, 2012 1:19 PM

It’s been nearly a month since Riverhead cab driver Robert Levasseur died after being punched once in the face during an incident in Hampton Bays—and prosecutors still have not charged the man responsible for his death.

According to a police source, Kenneth J. Tofty-Forrest, 27, of Hampton Bays came up from behind and landed a sucker punch to 53-year-old Mr. Levasseur’s right eye just after 2 p.m. on April 21, sending fragments from his orbital bone, or eye socket, into his brain. He was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he eventually died from his injuries on April 26. The cause of death must be confirmed by autopsy, but the police source said initial indications were that the punch was the likely cause of death, not a subsequent injury to the back of Mr. Levasseur’s head when he fell and hit the pavement.

Police said at the time that Mr. Tofty-Forrest was coming to the aid of Hampton Bays resident Faith Miller, who had an altercation with Mr. Levasseur, a driver for Four Ones Taxi service based in Hampton Bays, after Ms. Miller said he cut her off in traffic earlier in the day. Ms. Miller said last week that she later had observed the taxi driver pulling into the Chase Bank parking lot in Hampton Bays, recognized him, and confronted him about the earlier incident. She said Mr. Levasseur got out of his taxi, approached her and struck her—something police have not yet confirmed—and Mr. Tofty-Forrest, who happened to be nearby and observed the incident, intervened on her behalf.

Mr. Tofty-Forrest was arrested for the assault just after the incident on April 21 and originally charged with assault in the third degree, which is a misdemeanor, but police and prosecutors have said it’s likely the charges would be upgraded to manslaughter. Currently, he is out on $500 bail, prosecutors said.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s investigative office is looking into the incident before deciding whether to take it to the grand jury to seek a formal indictment of manslaughter. “We are still gathering evidence for a potential upgrade in charges,” Bob Clifford, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said this week. “Witness interviews are being conducted.”

Also this week, Ms. Miller revealed a connection between her and the deceased: She was laid off last year from the same taxi company, Four Ones Taxi, where she worked as a dispatcher and was a co-worker of Mr. Levasseur.

While Ms. Miller said in a series of emails this week that she worked as a dispatcher for the cab company during the same time frame as Mr. Levasseur, she said she did not know him on a personal level.

“I dispatched to the driver when he was on my shift,” she said. “I dispatched two days a week. Sometimes he was there, sometimes he wasn’t—just like every other driver. I can tell you his name is Rob. That’s all I knew about him.”

At the same time, she said that it’s normal for drivers and dispatchers to have routine disagreements. “And any dispatcher that says they don’t ever yell or have a problem with a driver while they are dispatching is lying,” she wrote.

She said she was on good terms with the cab company, and was laid off about eight months ago near Labor Day weekend due to a disagreement over her hours. Since then, she said, she has been receiving unemployment insurance and spending more time with her family.

Four Ones Taxi manager Wayne Lentini declined to comment on the incident, saying company officials were waiting for the conclusion of the investigation. He did confirm that Ms. Miller worked for the firm last year.

Ms. Miller said she wrote the emails to dispel rumors that are circulating that there was more to the incident than was reported.

“I just thought I would clear the air,” she said. “I know people talk, and it gets to me that people would make this out to be something it’s not.”

Mr. Tofty-Forrest did not return requests for comment. His attorney, Cornelius S. Rogers, declined to discuss the case, but said he would make a statement at a future date, if appropriate.

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