In an effort to curb the illegal use and misuse of disabled placards in California, California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) investigators launched Operation Blue Zone targeting suspects who obtain placards by fraudulent means.
As a result of Operation Blue Zone, three San Francisco residents were recently arrested on felony charges involving the Disable Person Placard application process.
On, July 12, 2014, Qiaoyun Chen, 50, and Guobin Qin, 29, were arrested and charged with four felonies including filing false information with a state agency, perjury, commercial burglary, and forgery.
Yessi Morales, 35, was arrested on July 3, 2014 during a traffic stop by the San Francisco Police Department. She is charged with 24 felony counts.
"There is no question people are fraudulently obtaining and using these placards to get front row parking, to park for free and to park with no time limits imposed," said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. CSLEA and its affiliate the Association of Motor Vehicles Investigators of California (AMVIC) represent California DMV investigators. "Our investigators are working to protect the integrity of the disabled person placard program so those who truly need a parking space close to a business or office can access one."
The San Francisco District DMV Investigations Office started Operation Blue Zone (OBZ) in February 2014 after receiving a large number of DPP applications that were flagged by DMV field office staff as being allegedly fraudulent. Flag triggers included suspected forged doctor's signatures, similar applicant and doctor hand-writing, frequent applications being submitted by the same doctor, and suspected false medical diagnosis.
Fraudulent applications began increasing in numbers in late 2013 and the beginning of 2014, with the majority of the placard recipients living or working in San Francisco. The suspected fraud applications were submitted in several DMV field offices with the majority submitted to the San Mateo DMV field office.
"Those suspected of filing false applications face felony charges and if convicted, they face prison time," said AMVIC President and DMV Investigator Kenny Ehrman. "The abuse of the DPPP's is happening all over California and dramatically impedes those who are trying to utilize them in the manor for which they are intended."
If convicted, Morales, Qin and Chen face up to four years in prison.