The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is seeking a three-year ban on a man accused of violently attacking a Bronx subway station cleaner last week.
MTA chair and CEO Janno Lieber wants Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark to request a judge to ban Alexander Wright, 49, from the agency’s subways, buses, and commuter rails for three years if convicted. The ban represents the maximum penalty allowed under the law. Wright would be the first person to ever be banned from the system if a judge honors Clark’s request.
Wright faces charges of felony assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree and harassment in the second degree following an attack on transit cleaner Anthony Nelson, 35, on August 11th at the Pelham Bay Park ‘6’ line train station, according to the MTA.
“No one should go to work looking over their shoulder,” Lieber said, standing beside Nelson and his family at a news conference on Friday. “No one should have to worry if you’re a public servant like Anthony and everybody who works for the MTA, to worry that you’re going to be targeted and subjected to a brutal attack at your workplace serving the public.”
According to the NYPD and MTA, Nelson was working inside the station when he was approached by a customer about a man harassing people outside the station, and went outside to assess the situation and get a description for police. The NYPD said that’s when the man, later identified as Wright, approached Nelson and punched him in the head. When Nelson tried to get away, Wright pushed him, throwing him on the ground.
Lieber described Nelson as a “model employee” on Friday.
In 2020, the state Legislature included a measure in the budget that would allow judges the ability to prohibit people who are convicted of assaulting transit workers or committing sex crimes within the MTA system from entering for up to three years.
It was unclear from the statement how the ban would be enforced, and the MTA did not answer an email requesting clarification.
Earlier this year, the New York Post reported that city judges had yet to apply the new law.
“Up to now – it’s been on the books for a couple of years – we’ve deferred to the courts to decide whether that is appropriate,” Lieber said on Friday.
According to an MTA statement, Wright has previously been arrested at least 13 times, some of those within the transit system. He’s being held on $5,000 bail.
“We’re happy that he got indicted and we hope that he gets the max,” Nelson’s sister, Nashia Nelson, said at the press conference speaking on behalf of the victim and his family.
In response to a question about Wright’s bail, she said “we pray that he’s not able to make the bail, we’re not even gonna think about the bail we’re just gonna think positive – and he’s indicted, that’s the most important thing for us.”