An assistant commissioner at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges alleging she used a phony placard to score free parking in Manhattan earlier this year.
Vivian Louie, the assistant commissioner of property management and client services at HPD, allegedly displayed a photocopied fraudulent parking placard on the dashboard of her car while parked in downtown Manhattan in March. Louie, who is from Queens, pleaded not guilty to the two charges brought against her: criminal possession of a forged instrument and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. She faces up to 7 years in prison if convicted.
On March 6, around 5:10 p.m., a Department of Investigations investigator spotted the fake placard inside the window of Louie’s 1998 Toyota Rav4 parked in front of 8 Spruce St., according to the criminal complaint. Louie later admitted to investigators that the placard, which did not have the official Department of Transportation tag, was forged.
Additionally, investigators later discovered Louie’s driver’s license had been suspended for failure to answer a summons and had not been reinstated, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance.
“DOI is committed to investigating abuses of parking placards and holding public officials accountable for attempting to manipulate a system that is meant to assist city employees in their service to the public,” said Margaret Garnett, commissioner of DOI. “This defendant, a high-level city employee, allegedly used a photocopy of an original Department of Transportation-issued placard to park her car, while legally restricted from even operating her vehicle because of an outstanding summons, according to the charges.”
Louie has been employed by HPD since April 2007, earning around $148,000 a year.
“HPD referred the case to DOI and has been cooperating with the agency,” a spokesperson from HPD said in a statement. “We take placard abuse seriously and hold our employees to a high standard of conduct.”
Louie is scheduled to appear back in court on Jan. 7, 2021.
Updated at 3:13 p.m., on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.