TALLAHASSEE, -- On Aug. 11, the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence (BCII) announced the arrest of seven individuals on charges related to the fraudulent procurement, issuance and sale of approximately 700 disabled person parking placards. Four additional suspects are charged and warrants for arrest are active and outstanding.
The investigation began in February 2023, when the Liberty County Tax Collector's Office contacted the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) after learning that a large number of placards were applied for and issued to one individual within their county on behalf of multiple persons residing in South Florida.
Florida law states individuals submitting a request for a disabled person parking placard must provide FLHSMV an application signed by a Certifying Medical Authority. BCII contacted the listed medical authority, a retired pediatrician with no knowledge or involvement in the fraudulent use of his name.
Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “These placards are reserved for Floridians with mobility issues, and it is extremely infuriating that the defendants exploited this state-run program. It’s even more disheartening that there were hundreds of buyers eager to pay for the ill-gotten privilege to essentially steal parking spots from people with disabilities.”
“The individuals charged in this scheme have profited off of a resource the state reserves to assist those with a medical need,” said FLHSMV Executive Director Dave Kerner. “They took advantage of this resource by using fraud, forgery and deception. While we continue to locate and arrest others responsible, those arrested will be held accountable for their actions and prosecuted as they well deserve.”
During the investigation, analysts discovered online content advertising the group's ability to procure disabled person parking permits for those who had a "long walk to class" or were "tired of parking in the back."
Due to the large number of placards applied for, issued and sold, investigators knew others were involved in this scheme to profit. As a result of the investigation, the following individuals were arrested for their involvement with charges including Scheme to Defraud, Money Laundering, Criminal Use of Personal Identification Number and Uttering a Forged Instrument:
Additional suspects remain at large, with active warrants for their arrest, they are:
If you have information relating to this case or know the location of the suspects at large, please contact the FHP Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence at 850-617-2302.