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Drivers charged in New York City fake placard scheme, officials say

Drivers paid $500 to $2,600 for fake handicapped

Drivers paid $500 to $2,600 for fake handicapped parking placards so they could park for free, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office said. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

These knockoffs cost much more than a counterfeit watch or purse.

Drivers paid $500 to $2,600 for fake handicapped parking placards so they could park for free, according to an indictment announced Tuesday by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York City Department of Investigation.

The indictment named 30 defendants, who face a range of charges including first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, and second-degree criminal impersonation, authorities said.

Several of the forged placards were “purportedly” issued by city agencies and sometimes displayed in high-end vehicles, including a Rolls-Royce, officials said. The illegal parkers imperiled the handicapped by taking ambulette and other parking spaces, officials said.

“Luxury vehicles with fake placards were restricting access to parking for the disabled, creating potentially dangerous situations and breaking the law,” DOI Commissioner Mark G. Peters said in a joint statement with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. The indictment came days after the Sept. 29 arrest of Mahmoud Jeaidi, of the Bronx. Jeaidi sold a fake city Law Department placard — for $1,200 — to a DOI undercover investigator, the DOI said.

Jeaidi is also accused of having another knockoff parking permit that “he kept for his own personal use,” the DOI said. Officials did not say whether Jeaidi was connected to the 30 defendants.

The fake placard probe began in March after DOI investigators spotted an increase in fake permits in lower Manhattan — including outside that agency’s offices, officials said. It ended in September.

Although focused downtown, the investigation covered the five boroughs, officials said. Investigators discovered that drivers posing as civil servants or aid workers, placed fake permits on their dashboards to mislead traffic agents, officials said.

The defendants also impeded traffic and created hazards by forcing delivery trucks to double park, which also caused difficulties for businesses, officials said, adding that the drivers also deprived the city of ticket revenue the illegal parkers should have been charged.

In a statement, officials referred to forged parking placards as a “pervasive problem,” and said the investigation is continuing.

City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said her agency will crackdown on placard fakers by “pursuing electronic real-time verification, training law enforcement on the designs of legal placards and by enhancing our holograms.”

The DOI noted enforcement will include the ability to quickly scan license plates to check if placards are valid.

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