EXCLUSIVE: A cab driver from Cliffside Park avoided a trial today — and is instead getting a year’s probation — for sexually assaulting a female customer in the back seat of his hack.
Wilson Mercado, a Dominican native, faces possible deportation, Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian said.
Mercado, 53, was driving for a Fairview taxi service when he picked up a female passenger at the Firestone on Anderson Avenue in the early morning hours of February 15, 2012.
Authorities said he took the woman to her apartment in Edgewater, stopping along the way so that she could buy cigarettes.
The woman told police that when they arrived at her River Road building, Mercado got into the back seat with her, pulled down her top, and began fondling her.
The victim is “concerned he still is employed as a cab driver and thinks it’s inappropriate for him to be alone with females in the car,” Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kristin DeMarco told Jerejian.
She asked that the judge restrict Mercado at sentencing to having someone in his cab whenever he picks up a female fare.
Mercado pleaded to having “touched her on her body in an offensive manner” — essentially a disorderly-persons harassment offense — which Jerejian said ordinarily carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail.
Conviction for the original charge of criminal sexual contact could send someone to prison for up to 18 months and the require them under Megan’s Law to register as a sex offender.
Under his sentence, Mercado could complete his probation in six months if he stays out of trouble and complies with all conditions, the judge said.
Then he’ll have to answer to federal immigration authorities.
Jerejian set sentencing for Feb. 7.
Mercado also has a Hudson County court scheduled this Friday in Jersey City on charges of obstruction of government operations.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter