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Freedom for Adam White! Brooklyn DA Declines to Prosecute ‘Criminal Mischief’ Maker

The Brooklyn District Attorney has declined to prosecute attorney Adam White for removing this obstruction from a driver’s plate. Photo: Adam White

The Brooklyn District Attorney has declined to prosecute lawyer Adam White after he was charged by the NYPD with "criminal mischief" for removing an intentional obstruction from a driver's license plate so that it could be read by speed-, red-light, or toll cameras.

White's case had become a cause célèbre among street safety advocates who have long objected to the practice — which is common among members of law enforcement — of obstructing a license plate to avoid detection.

"The case was declined prosecution — insufficient evidence to prosecute," said Oren Yaniv, the spokesman for Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez.

Cops call it criminal mischief to un-deface this scofflaw's plate. File photo: Adam White
Cops call it criminal mischief to un-deface this scofflaw's plate. File photo: Adam White
Cops call it criminal mischief to un-deface this scofflaw's plate. File photo: Adam White

White had argued that there wasn't sufficient evidence to even be arrested in the Nov. 11 incident. As White was cycling to work that day, he noticed a black Chevy SUV with tinted windows and a license plate with a piece of tape or plastic obstructing one letter (photo, right).

White does not deny what happened next: He removed the obstruction. Unfortunately for him, the driver, who was still in the car behind those tinted windows, called police. Officers promptly showed up and arrested White, yet did not give the driver a ticket for the infraction of intentionally obscuring a license plate.

White told Streetsblog on Wednesday night that he was relieved that the case was dropped, but will still go ahead with a 1 p.m. press conference/rally at Brooklyn Borough Hall to decry the danger posed by drivers who turn their cars into "ghost cars" by defacing their tags.

"I’m not surprised about the DA’s decision and glad they did the right thing and not prosecute me," he said.

White's lawyer, Gideon Oliver, added that "it was clear there was not sufficient evidence to arrest or prosecute." He declined to say more because he had not yet been informed by the DA's office of the decision.

It is unclear if the DA's reluctance to prosecute effectively decriminalizes un-defacing scofflaw's plates, and neither White nor Oliver commented on that.

The NYPD did not respond to an initial request for comment. At a community meeting on Tuesday night, 78th Precinct commander Capt. Franz Souffrant defended his officers' actions in arresting White yet not issuing a ticket to the driver.

Supporters of Adam White will hold a press conference at 1 p.m. at Brooklyn Borough Hall (Joralemon Street between Court and Adams streets).

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