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Police: Long Island trucker hid plate to avoid paying toll

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A truck driver from Westbury was arrested Thursday after he allegedly retracted his license plate to avoid paying a toll on the Goethals Bridge in Staten Island, authorities said.

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Eric Bonhommer, 33, of Prospect Avenue, was arrested around 1 p.m. Thursday and charged with theft of service and tampering with evidence, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey police said.

As Bonhommer passed through a toll lane at the bridge’s Staten Island crossing, veteran Port Authority Officer Ed Benenati saw the truck’s front license plate “swing up behind the truck’s bumper in an apparent attempt to avoid the toll,” police said. The cop followed the 1997 Freightliner truck and initiated a traffic stop.

While he was pulled over, Bonhommer allegedly “admitted that he had pulled the plate up to avoid the toll” and told investigators he retracted the license plate because “he didn’t know the balance on his E-ZPass account.”

A police spokesman said the license plate was rigged to a 12-foot string, which was “threaded through a rubber tube that snaked around the truck body to the driver’s compartment in the area of the steering column.”

Authorities allege Bonhommer also tampered with evidence as officers were inspecting the truck when he allegedly removed the string from the device, which they said destroyed “the elaborate contraption.”

The truck, which police said belonged to Bohommer’s relative, was impounded. Police are continuing to investigate.

A spokesman for the Richmond County district attorney’s office said Bonhommer pleaded not guilty Friday at his arraignment and was released without bail. He is due back in Staten Island Criminal Court on June 17.

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