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Department of Correction

CITY HAUL: Four Corrections Officers Busted — And Suspended — in Fake Placard Scam

4:26 PM EST on December 8, 2020

A Correction officer was selling fake handicapped parking permits, authorities say. File photo: David Meyer

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What's a lifetime of free parking apparently worth? Less than $300.

A city Corrections officer was selling fake disability parking permits for $200 to $280 to his fellow officers — and one civilian — in a placard abuse scam that was busted by the Department of Investigation and the office of the Bronx District Attorney, authorities said on Tuesday.

According to officials with both agencies, Officer Nakia Gales, 44, of Manhattan sold forged placards between February, 2019, and this November, at the bargain price to three co-workers — Shyiera Daniels, 29, of Manhattan; Judy Guity, 46, of the Bronx, and Rasma Caines, 43, of The Bronx — plus civilian Craig Scott, 60, of the Bronx. All four Correction officers have been suspended, according to the department.

“The allegations against these officers are disappointing and very disturbing," DOC Commissioner Cynthia Brann said in a statement to Streetsblog. "Everyone who has been indicted will be suspended.”

Investigators said they found the fake placards "in the vehicles of the five defendants." All are charged with second-degree and third-degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument, a felony that carries a maximum of seven years in jail, though judges rarely toss such heavy a book in such non-violent cases. Gales was also charged with sale of forged parking placards.

“Members of our community with severe disabilities need these placards to enable them to park near their place of work, doctor’s office and other essential places so they can go about their lives more easily," Bronx DA Darcel Clark said in a statement. "The defendants — four of them Correction Officers — allegedly corrupted the placard program for their own convenience. Now they face felony charges.”

Gales, Daniels, Guity and Caines were arraigned and released on their own recognizance and they are due back in court on March 16. Gales and Caines each made $100,000 last year. Daniels made $123,000. Guity made $103,000. The civilian has not yet been arraigned.

The case represents the second (albeit it tiny) piece of positive news for critics of the city's placard program, and authorities' limited effort to crack down on abusers. In September, the Department of Investigations announced that it had nailed one (yes, one) city official for placard abuse. And last year, eight people were arrested for making fake placards, but none was a city official. In that case, the fraud was revealed when the suspects produced fake placards when they fought parking tickets in court, which is a little like trying to going to a bank to pay off a loan with bills in sequential order.

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