Fixing parking tickets is a no-no, even if it's for friends and family. Six (ahem, former) employees from Nassau County's Traffic and Parking Violations Agency got fired after the agency caught them violating that rule.
Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi says the six workers fixed more than 100 tickets, costing the state and county up to $25,000 in lost revenue.
"There remains a zero-tolerance for waste, fraud and abuse in this administration," Suozzi said. "How dare these workers betray the public's trust? They're out of here today."
The nepotistic workers had access to the agency's computer system. They dismissed charges, eliminated fines and surcharges, and changed the dates for court proceedings. In one case, a worker generated a refund for someone who had already paid a fine.
The probe, which began in March, has led to changes in policy. District Attorney Kathleen Rice said she is investigating possible criminal charges.
"What's clear here is that there was a line for those with connections and a line for the average Joe," Rice said. "To me this is more than just waste, fraud and abuse. I think this betrayal of the public trust is criminal and I'm going to do everything I can to prove it."
The department's initial investigation showed quite a trail of evidence implicating the workers in the fraud. Angela Petty, a Clerk, changed the plea status of cases -- even dismissing some -- for relatives and friends.
Another clerk, Celia Capozzoli, tried to bail her son out of ticket trouble by changing case records in the computer system. The tickets ranged from speeding to running a red light, not wearing a seat belt and parking offenses, authorities found. Clerk Roseanna Alveari entered the system and kicked cases for her son as well, authorities said.
Mary Green, a secretary with the agency, tried to do the same for her nephew. Investigators say she delayed a case for three years; they accuse her of dismissing charges and eliminating all fines and surcharges imposed by the traffic court.
An assistant director, Joseph Butindari, used his position to help his niece and his brother -- and keyboard operator Priscilla Jordan used hers to drop summonses against her daughter, her friend and herself, investigators found.