Today’s news:

Hero cab driver pleads guilty to attempted rape

The Elmhurst livery cab driver who last year was praised for delivering an abandoned baby girl to a Corona firehouse has pleaded guilty to attempted rape, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Klever Sailema, 46, admitted to the crime in court last Thursday, the DA’s office said. The cab driver, who has been in jail since his March arrest in lieu of $50,000 bail, will likely be sentenced to 5 1/2 years in state prison and forced to register with the state’s sex offender database, Brown said. Sailema’s sentencing date is Aug. 4.

“The offense to which the defendant has admitted is a crime of violence that poses a serious threat to public safety and as such warrants punishment by a prison term,” Brown said in a statement.

Sailema picked up the 23-year-old woman around 2 a.m. in front of 37-18 28th Ave. in Astoria March 2, according to a criminal complaint filed by the DA’s office. He then drove her to an unknown location in Queens and allegedly assaulted her, police said.

The woman fell asleep after being picked up, Brown said. She woke up in the back seat with her pants and underwear pulled down and Sailema on top of her, the complaint said. She fought back, screaming, punching, kicking and biting Sailema on the arm before grabbing the vehicle’s registration papers containing Sailema’s name and jumping out of the cab, the DA’s office said.

The victim was taken to a local Queens hospital and treated for injuries sustained during the attempted rape, Brown said.

Sailema was the focus of media attention in February 2008, when he dropped off 6-month-old Daniella Cosme Perez at a Corona firehouse, telling authorities a man who jumped out of his cab abandoned the girl.

Police quickly determined Sailema had been part of a scheme by the baby’s 27-year-old father, Carlos Rodas, to abandon the infant. Sailema, who was dating the sister of the baby’s mother at the time, initially faced charges of criminal facilitation along with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Maria Siavichay. A judge dismissed the charges last April on the condition that Sailema avoid any police trouble in the next six months.

The baby and her mother, 15-year-old Yelemer Cosme Perez, were both transferred last March by the city Administration for Children’s Services to the Human Services Agency in Maryland.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jewalsh@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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