Identity theft is considered a serious crime in the U.S. which can result in major consequences including hefty fines and up to 30 years in federal prison. You’d think that the government officials would be aware of their country’s law and the punishment for breaking it, but one Floridian mayor decided to put her title and reputation on the line by stealing a dead woman’s identity just to get a spot in the handicap parking.
Three-time Mayor of Davenport Faces Serious Allegations
Sometimes, finding a parking space in a busy area, can be a real headache. But one woman found an easy way to avoid the parking hassle by stealing a deceased woman’s identity and using her placard to park in the handicap space – those spots are always empty anyway right?
Unfortunately, she paid for her small mistake in a big way by losing her title as a mayor and facing serious charges that could earn her a few years of jail time. Darlene Bradley has served as the mayor of Davenport, a small town in Florida, for three consecutive terms. In the last election, Bradley came out victorious with 307 votes while her opponent had 182 – it was a moment of celebration for the three-time-mayor but the joy was short-lived as there was trouble brewing on the horizon.
Breaking the Law
A few months after Bradley took office, Kelly Callihan, the city manager of Davenport, received a phone call from the Sherriff’s department saying that they had received some disturbing news about the town’s mayor. Someone had anonymously tipped the County Sherriff that Darlene Bradley had been regularly using the handicap spot in the parking of the city hall despite being in perfect health.
In an interview with Washington Post, Callihan said that he had never suspected Darlene Bradley of doing something illegal so, when she heard the Sherriff say that she had been stealing someone’s identity to get a parking spot, the city manager was shocked. Callihan said that he has no doubt in her mind that Bradley was an exceptional mayor who was liked by all. The news of the recent criminal charges against her has shocked everyone.
Police Begin an Investigation to Uncover the Truth
Before receiving the tip from the county sheriff, Callihan said that he never questioned the mayor about the parking situation or suspected anything wrong because she had a placard which gave her the right to park in the handicap spot.
In fact, the mayor was doing it so regularly that Callihan never gave it a second thought. Now that he looks back, the fact that the mayor had no physical disability, should have been the first warning sign that something was wrong.
The county sheriff’s office began their investigation to uncover the truth behind Bradley parking placard. While digging up more information about the mayor and her husband, the authorities discovered that neither of them had received any special parking permits to allow them to park in the handicap spot.
The deputies in the sheriff department carried out secret surveillance of the town mayor by installing cameras in the parking lot of the city hall to obtain evidence of her crime. Indeed, the Bradley pulled up in her usual spot one day and casually strolled into the city hall without any need of assistance.
The camera footage also showed her hanging a placard that obviously did not belong to her on the rear-view mirror before exiting the vehicle. An affidavit was released with details of the surveillance and investigation which confirmed that the placard hanging on Bradley’s mirror did not have her name on it. The surveillance camera footage revealed that the placard belonged to an Evelyn Letterman who had passed away in 2012.
The following day, the mayor was taken under arrest for parking illegally in a spot meant for the handicapped as well as stealing someone else’s identity and using it to her advantage. Upon searching Bradley’s home, the police also found more permits that belonged to two people who had passed away.
Bradley will have to face the consequences of violating the law and disappointing the citizens of her town, but more importantly, she will also have to give up her position as a mayor if she receives a conviction after the trial. No further details about her case have been revealed yet.