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Ex-Uber driver charged with trying to extort money from passenger

A former Uber driver pleaded not guilty Thursday to trying to extort money from a passenger in order to get her phone back, then nearly running her over when he fled the scene in West Hollywood last year, prosecutors said.

Los Angeles County prosecutors say that Philip Bagwell, 46, who was convicted of grand theft in 1990 and 1998 and forgery in 1991, was an Uber driver in July 2015 when he picked up a woman headed to a West Hollywood comedy club.

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The woman forgot her cellphone in Bagwell’s car when he dropped her off, authorities said, but she managed to call him and get him to come back.

“When Bagwell returned, he allegedly refused to give the phone back unless the victim paid him,” prosecutors said in a statement.

Bagwell then drove off and knocked the woman down, nearly driving over her, officials said. Bagwell is charged with assault with a deadly weapon, attempted extortion and petty theft.

He faces up to four years and eight months in prison if convicted. He's due back in court March 30 for a pre-trial hearing.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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