A San Francisco mother and son who lied to obtain handicap placards have plead guilty to felony forgery, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office announced today.
Guobin Qin, 29, and his mother, Qiaoyun Chen, 50, will each serve 1,000 hours of community service assisting the disabled and pay a $4,100 fine for filing false documents with the Department of Motor Vehicles. According to a DMV press release, the maximum punishment was up to four years in prison.
District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement: “Disabled placards and blue zones are for people who need them — they’re for people with disabilities. Falsifying documents to get free parking simply isn’t worth it, and you’re breaking the law if you’re fraudulently using a disabled placard.”
Qin and Chen were arrested following anonymous tips to the Investigations Division of the DMV, which started its "Operation Blue Zone" initiative in February after receiving a large number of suspicious Disabled Person Placard applications.
According to the D.A, Qin and Chen each separately applied for and received placards using a false doctor's signature that stated a diagnosis of "lung disease." When investigators spoke to the doctor, he said he had no record of either being a patient.
Another San Francisco resident suspected of placard abuse, Yessi Morales, will have a preliminary hearing next week, the D.A's Legislative Affairs and Policy Manager Maxwell Szabo tells SFist. Morales was arrested on July 3 during a traffic stop by the SFPD and is charged with 24 felony counts. According to the Chronicle, Morales said she had arthritis on her DMV applications, but the two doctors she listed say they have not treated her.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose said that disabled placards, which allow someone to park for free at any meter or blue curb space, account for a loss of "more than $20 million a year."
Before the DMV crackdown, the typical punishment for misusing a disabled placard was having it taken away and a $900 fine. DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said they're hoping that the aggressive enforcement will help catch perpetrators at the beginning stages.
If you think someone is falsely using a Disabled Person Placard, you can anonymously report it to the DMV Investigations office using the form found here.