BELIEVE IT! City Busts Eight for Placard Abuse

Mayor de Blasio announced increased enforcement on placard abuse back in February. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor de Blasio announced increased enforcement on placard abuse back in February. Photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Law enforcement officials cuffed more than a half-dozen people on Tuesday for separately all using “forged parking placards” in order to get away with illegally parking on city streets, officials said — but critics said the enforcement is low-hanging fruit when compared to rampant placard abuse perpetrated by the city’s own employees and cops. 

The eight suspects are facing up to four years in prison after Department of Investigation authorities arrested them Tuesday at Chinatown’s 5th Precinct on felony charges for using fraudulent parking placards, fabricated to appear as if they were issued by the City Law Department, the DOT, and the New York Blood Center. The defendants selfishly took reserved spots from people who need them — even parking at times in handicapped spaces, according to the DOI.

“Using fraudulent placards to circumvent the rules is a crime,” said DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett. “These individuals abused city parking regulations and attempted to escape paying the penalties by posing as city employees with city-issued placards or by using fake handicap parking placards reserved for those in real need.”

All eight got tickets on their vehicles. But when it came time to fight the summonses, they all submitted their faux placards to the Department of Finance. Some of the placards were entirely fabricated while others were altered.

There is no evidence that any of the individuals were working together as part of a faux placard-making ring and none of the placards or defendants involved in the investigation is NYPD-related, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Investigation.

“None of the placards at issue were legitimate placards that were simply being misused,” said DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi.

The whole charade seemed more like a dog and pony show than an authentic crackdown on placard abuse since officials look the other way when city employees illegally park with placards.

“The hypocrisy is unmistakable,” the keeper of the the watchdog Twitter account, Placard Corruption, told Streetsblog. “The official misconduct of officials who deliberately misuse their placards is also a crime, yet the people who have connections continue to avoid parking tickets, let alone the humiliation of a perp walk in front of news cameras.”

But Mayor de Blasio applauded the city’s investigation and insisted that “fake placards are not going to be tolerated,” despite widespread abuse by his own cops. Hizzoner also tooted his own horn by saying the arrests of the eight individuals is part of the “bigger crackdown” he announced back in February to rein in placard abuse throughout the city.

“We’re going to increasingly using every tool we have to create real consequences for anyone who misuses a placard or creates a fake placards,” de Blasio told reporters at an unrelated press conference on crime stats.  

The Department of Investigation hinted Tuesday that this round of arrests is not the end of the placard crackdown, but perhaps the beginning. “[It] doesn’t mean we are ignoring or not putting resources into other aspects of the issue.”

  • Larry Littlefield

    This is about maintaining the value of the privilege, abused or not. If everybody had placards, then no one would actually have placards.

  • com63

    “All eight got tickets on their vehicles. But when it came time to fight the summonses, they all submitted their faux placards to the Department of Finance.”

    So if they didn’t contest the ticket, they would have been okay. I imagine for every ticket issued, these people get away with countless other unticketed violations.

  • How could these people have imagined that a City adjudicator would fail to recognise a phony placard?

    If this is how these people were caught, then it has nothing to do with any “crackdown” of de Blasio’s, but, rather, with the scammers’ own bungling.

  • qrt145

    Eight down, eighty thousand to go!

  • Reader

    “Using fraudulent placards to circumvent the rules is a crime.”

    The next step is doing something about the people who use real placards to circumvent the rules. The step after that is to get rid of placards altogether.

  • Reader

    Yeah. These people weren’t cops. The message from NYPD here is, “Regular people can’t create fake parking placards and park wherever you want! That’s our job.”

  • Joe R.

    NYC should send a 1099 to the IRS each year for the fair market value of the parking enabled by the parking placard. In fact, I think it has to according to the IRS. If people don’t want to get this, then they can avoid it by turning in their placards.

  • djx

    “How could these people have imagined that a City adjudicator would fail to recognise a phony placard?”

    They were hoping for a little “professional courtesy,” as police like to call it.

  • Jacob

    Yep. Most of the time the way the placard corruption system works is that the vehicles with phony placards never get tickets in the first place. There is ample evidence of this.

  • I must admit that I don’t get this. It’s City employees who get “professional courtesy” to abuse parking privileges by means of real placards used improperly, or, sometimes by means of nonsense such as a safety vest left on the dashboard.

    But the people in this story were not actually City employees. Wasn’t it unrealistic of them to think that a City official would not notice that the placards they were submitting were fake?

  • cjstephens

    Let’s skip that middle step. No placards at all.

  • AMH

    Great, now where’s Hizzoner’s bigger crackdown?

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