Miami Woman Arrested for Selling Fake Disabled Parking Placards
October 15, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, News & Announcements Social Share
Scheming to defraud is a very serious crime in Florida. Also known as organized fraud, it is considered a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud one or more people with the intent to gain money or property from them.
In a recent case in Florida, a woman has been arrested for organized fraud after selling fake disabled parking spaces. We will provide details on the case along with information about organized fraud in Florida.
What was the Incident?
Nicole Cardona, 26, was arrested by the Miami Beach Police after being accused of selling fraudulent disabled parking placards. According to Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Cardona was selling the fake parking placards for up to $200 each, complete with forged doctor signatures.
Cardona’s arrest was the end of an ongoing undercover sting by the Miami Beach Police. The investigation began back in November of 2021, when a Miami Beach officer noticed a driver parked in a reserved handicapped parking space.
The officer recalled thinking that the situation seemed “suspicious”, even despite displaying what appeared to be a valid permit. According to the arrest warrant, the driver claimed that the placard belonged to his grandmother; however, he later changed his story to say he paid for someone else to get it issued in his name from a doctor’s office.
The police officer questioned the man further, to which he admitted to getting one of his coworkers to “hook him up” with the placard in case he was late for work and needed to park closer.
According to the arrest warrant, the man had paid Cardona $150 for the placard. He claimed to have not known Cardona’s personal information except for her phone number. He explained that the woman instructed him to send over the details of his driver’s license and to meet up at a nearby parking lot. Cardona then gave the man a forged doctor’s signature and a paper form to fill out and take to the DMV to receive the placard.
During the investigation, two undercover detectives contacted Cardona for the placards, to which she gave similar instructions. The undercover police officers were instructed to send Cardona $200 via Cash App. She then sent them the pre-filled forms.
Investigators questioned the two physicians who had their names listed on the forms. Both individuals told the police that it was not their own handwriting on the forms and that they wouldn’t have approved any disabled parking permits unless it was a limited circumstance.
Cardona has since been arrested and charged with the felony of organized scheme to defraud, criminal use of a public record or public records information and forgery, and a misdemeanor charge of making false official statements. Police have not yet announced how many fake disabled placards were sold, nor whether any additional arrests were made in the investigation.
Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle gave the following statement regarding the arrest:
“While profiteering from the sale of illegal handicapped parking placards may seem like a small issue to many who live beyond Miami Beach, this enterprise which allegedly involved the forging of doctors’ signatures on official documents, is a criminal act and impacts the daily lives of numerous residents living in the city.”
The news release from Rundle’s office continued to say that Miami Beach police had been receiving complaints for some time. The complaints were consistently about “drivers abusing disabled placards to park in permitted residential neighborhoods for unlimited lengths of time.”
Organized Scheme to Defraud in Florida
Fraud is one of the top prosecuted crimes in the state of Florida. Florida Statute section 817.034(3)(d) explains that the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant engaged in a scheme to defraud; and
- The defendant obtained property through the scheme.
A scheme to defraud means the following:
- The defendant was engaged in a systematic, ongoing course of conduct
- The defendant had the intent to defraud one or more persons, or wanted to take property from one or more individuals; and
- The fraudulent act was committed under false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.
If a person is charged with fraud, it can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Florida Statute section 817.034(4)(a) covers the varying sentences for organized fraud crimes that occur when the offenses have the same characteristics as a scheme to defraud crime.
An individual who is accused of organized fraud can face the following penalties depending on the aggregated value of property as follows:
- A third-degree felony if the aggregated value of property obtained was less than $20,000
- A second-degree felony if the aggregated value of property obtained was between $20,000 and $50,000
- A first-degree felony if the aggregated value of property obtained was $50,000 or more
Find out more about organized scheme to defraud on our informative page here.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
In Florida, even non-violent crimes can have harsh penalties if convicted. White-collar crimes are taken very seriously and can result in expensive fines and potential jail time. If you or a loved one have been accused of a white-collar crime, your first step should be to reach out to a skilled white-collar crime defense attorney in your area. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have worked with individuals across the state for various criminal charges. Contact us today for a free consultation at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key