Politics

Feds Ran Fraud Scheme In Transportation Department’s Parking Lot

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Department of Transportation (DOT) workers defrauded their Washington, D.C., headquarters parking garage  — and federal taxpayers — out of possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the DOT Inspector General (IG).

Federal investigators found DOT employees, contractors and parking attendants used multiple methods to evade daily and monthly parking fees and scam DOT’s Parking and Transit Office out of $22,464 in October, 2015, and $28,356 in April, 2016, the two months the IG reviewed. If extrapolated, that amounts to $304,920 in losses per year, the IG said.

The IG presented several violators to the Department of Justice (DOJ) for prosecution, but the DOJ declined, leaving any discipline in the hands of DOT officials. The IG did not name any offenders in its report. (RELATED: Fraudsters Took Cash For Drivers Licenses)

Nonpayment was widespread, the IG found. Of 1,770 vehicles that entered the underground garage in October, 2015, 25 percent never paid. Of 1,817 vehicles that entered the garage in April, 2016, 29 percent failed to pay.

Employees skipped the $12 daily fee and $155 monthly fee by creating and purchasing fake parking decals and wrongly sharing monthly parking passes. A garage attendant also accepted cash in exchange for discounted decals, the IG found.

The DOT relies on contract personnel to manage its parking facilities and detect violators, but contractors don’t pursue citations, the IG said.

The department leases its headquarters facility from the JGB Company, and the Parking and Transit Office uses funds from employee parking to pay for the department’s facility contract, parking costs and overhead.

The IG recommended DOT increase standards for parking attendances and require them to perform regular surveillance, track written violation citations, and consider switching to automated garage technology.

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