D.C. accuses two more workers in parking scheme

Local,DC,Alan Blinder

The D.C. government employee had noticed a trend near his office in Southwest Washington: The meter maids who patrolled the area were aggressive, ready to issue parking tickets with abandon.

But District government investigators said he didn't set his watch to go drop more quarters into the meters.

Rather, they contend his solution amounted to a bizarre scheme that violated conduct guidelines: check out a D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs vehicle, park it elsewhere, remove its garage access pass and use it to park his personal automobile in a city-leased space.

According to a confidential report from the District's inspector general, recently obtained by The Washington Examiner, the unidentified employee devised the approach to obtain "free parking for his work day" on at least three occasions.

A separate review by the inspector general found that another DCRA employee used similar tactics at least 12 times to secure free parking.

That worker, investigators said, "admitted that maybe he switched vehicles more than five times" after he initially said he had done it less.

Helder Gil, a spokesman for DCRA, said the agency was weighing whether to sanction the workers.

"We're reviewing the [inspector general's] reports to determine whether to pursue disciplinary actions against the employees," Gil said.

District investigators have accused at least 15 city employees in recent months in an array of plots to garner free or better parking, including fraudulent use of parking permits meant for disabled motorists.

Most of those employees worked for Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi, whose spokesman said the CFO "wonders how people can be so stupid."

That spokesman, David Umansky, refused to say last week whether Gandhi has taken action against his implicated employees.

"I cannot comment if a personnel action has been taken regarding a specific employee," Umansky said, noting that the city's inspector general had not publicly identified the workers.

Inspector General Charles Willoughby's office has declined to discuss the origins or scope of its review, which has been extensive and included investigators conducting surveillance of city workers on dozens of occasions.

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