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Cabbie awarded for returning diamonds

Osman Chowdhury, 41, who moved to the United States 15 years ago from Bangladesh, said he was proud that his good deed would let people know that city cab drivers are honest and insisted he was not upset at the miniscule tip a woman customer from Texas gave him on Feb. 5."Sometimes people don't have much money Ð I'm used to it," he said. "I don't feel badly about it."Chowdhury, who received a 2007 achievement award from the Taxi and Limousine Commission for returning the diamonds to their owner, will receive a proclamation from Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside) at City Hall in the near future, a spokesman for the councilman said."Mr. Chowdhury represents everything that's good about New Yorkers," Gioia said. "He's honest, he's hardworking, he saw something wrong and he did his best to fix it."Chowdhury made national headlines after he returned a suitcase that contained a bag filled with diamonds to a customer, despite the fact that the woman gave the cab driver a $20 bill for a $10.70 fare and asked for $9 change. He drove the passenger from midtown Manhattan to an apartment building 15 minutes away around 6 p.m. on Feb. 5. Four hours later, passengers in his cab discovered the suitcase, which Chowdhury said he first attempted to return to its owner at the apartment where he dropped her off, but then took to his union, the Taxi Workers Alliance.The union tracked down the woman's mother in Dallas, who then contacted the diamonds' owner, Chowdhury said. The woman paid Chowdhury $100 for the hours he lost while attempting to return her suitcase to her."I told her, 'I don't want anything, thank you,'" he said. "It's my job, so I feel proud."Chowdhury's passenger, who has asked not to be identified, also received an award since the incident. MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann gave his famous "Worst Person in the World" award to the passenger on his Feb. 8 show.Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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