Kew Gardens man charged in parking fraud

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A Rosedale woman and a Kew Gardens man were charged with using fake disabled parking permits that allowed them to pull into to a Kennedy Airport lot for $3 a day rather than the regular daily rate of $24, the Queens District Attorney said.

Victoria Barrow-Legree, 39, of 230-42 146th St., and Sharam Olaie, 41, of 121-05 84th Ave., were among 11 people accused of hanging a handicapped tag on their rearview mirrors to get the reduced parking rate at Kennedy Airport, DA Richard Brown said last week. The defendants may have evaded a total of $15,000 in parking fees, he said.

"The defendants - all of whom are able-bodied individuals - have been charged with defrauding the Port Authority by wrongfully using vehicle placards issued for use by the handicapped to park their vehicles in specially designated parking spaces for a $3 flat rate instead of the full daily rate of up to $24," Brown said in a news release.

The tags, issued by city, county or state government agencies, allow drivers to park in handicapped spaces. At Kennedy Airport, the tags also entitle the driver to reduced parking fees, Brown said. Handicapped drivers pay a flat rate of $3, a steep discount from the normal charges of $20 for six to seven hours, $23 for seven to eight hours, or $24 for eight or more hours, he said.

It was unclear how the defendants got the handicapped tags.

"The fraudulent use of handicapped parking placards will not be tolerated," said Robert Van Etten, inspector general of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. "This criminal act steals a vital service from the most vulnerable in our society."

Barrow-Legree allegedly used the fraudulent tag to park closer to the airport terminals at Kennedy Airport, where she worked for SwissPort, an air cargo carrier, Brown said. She was arraigned May 21, and was released on her own recognizance, a spokesman for Brown said.

Olaie was arraigned May 23 and was also released, the spokesman said.

Barrow-Legree and Olaie have been charged with grand larceny and theft of services, and could face up to four years in prison if convicted, Brown said.

Olaie was also being investigated for possibly operating an illegal livery cab service, a law enforcement official said.

Nine Long Island residents, including six people employed on the airport, have been also been charged, Brown said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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