A city laborer has been arrested on charges of grand larceny and other offenses after he allegedly stole more than 600 handicapped parking permits and sold many of them on the streets.
Mayor Byron W. Brown said there is a "definite possibility" other individuals might be involved in the scheme, adding that police are continuing the investigation.
Alfonzo Harvin Jr., 51, is accused of entering a locked basement area in City Hall and stealing as many as 668 parking permits, along with a device that is used to validate the passes. According to police records, the crimes occurred over a seven-month period between June 1 and this week.
Harvin, who lives on Goodyear Avenue, has worked for the city since 1998, according to payroll records. He works in a division of the Public Works Department that handles street signs and meters.
Harvin was arrested Tuesday at the city's Seneca Street Garage, where he was working. He has been charged with grand larceny, burglary, tampering with public records and scheming to defraud. Detectives Edward Cotter and Thomas O'Brien made the arrests.
The charges against Harvin were lodged six days after the city engineer's office filed a police report indicating that permits had been stolen.
"The arrest comes as a result of good police work," Brown said Wednesday. "It should send a strong message that if you commit a crime in the city, there's a very good chance you will be caught and brought to justice."
How could a city laborer gain access to a locked office that is operated by another department?
Handicapped tags are handled by an office that is overseen by the Department of Community Services and Recreational Programming.
"That's one of the things they're investigating," Brown said, adding that officials are reviewing whether there are adequate controls. "I can tell you one thing: This will not be able to occur again."
Peter K. Cutler, Brown's communications director, said police are also looking into what steps could be taken to recover the tags. The permits are issued to those who have physical disabilities, giving them the right to park in specially designated areas. Officials did not disclose how many of the tags have been recovered.