3 Former Westchester County Employees Plead Guilty In Parking Permit Scheme

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Alessia Velez is one of three former Westchester County employees to plead guilty to grand larceny charges. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Westchester County District Attorney's Office
Marcus Harris of Mount Vernon is one of three former county employees to plead guilty to grand larceny charges. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Westchester County District Attorney's Office
Jahmai Samuel is one of three former Westchester County employees to plead guilty to grand larceny charges. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Westchester County District Attorney's Office

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Three former employees of the Westchester County Department of Parks and Recreation pleaded guilty on Thursday to defrauding Westchester County out of tens of thousands of dollars in parking revenue and MetroCard sales from the Westchester County Center parking lot.

Marcus Harris, 29, of Mount Vernon, Jahmai Samuel, 28, of Bronx and Alessia Velez, 29, of Richmond Hill all pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny, which is a felony.

The three former employees are the principal defendants in an investigation resulting in charges against an additional 12 people.

The remaining 12 defendants are friends, girlfriends, relatives or associates of the employees.

Over a three-year period from Aug. 13, 2009 to June 29, 2012, the defendants were involved in a scheme that involved employees at the parking lot selling full-year, half-year, or quarterly parking permits to unsuspecting customers, who were told to write the check out to a “third party,” rather than Westchester County.

Customers were told that these “third parties” had lost their jobs, or moved and no longer needed their parking space and were trying to recoup a portion of their parking permit fee. The names that the customers were induced to write on the checks were usually one of the defendants or a friend/family member.

The total theft includes the approximately $10,000 in cash Samuel took in Metro-North Railroad proceeds that were ostensibly remitted by the County to Metro-North that the New York City Transit MetroCard Fraud Unit was able to document.

In addition to the amounts deposited directly into their own bank accounts, these defendants used the bank accounts of other individuals to deposit additional stolen monies.

The total larceny from all 15 defendants is more than $195,000.

The scheme came to light last summer when Jahmai Samuel was the victim of a robbery at gunpoint on June 29. When the NYPD questioned Samuels about why he was in possession of $3,000 cash, he maintained that the money was customer parking cash receipts from his job which “he forgot to take to the bank after work.”

The New York City shooting proved to be the catalyst for this investigation in that it prompted questions as to how an employee of the Westchester County Department of Parks came in to position of that much cash representing parking proceeds.

Samuels faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison. Harris and Velez face a maximum sentence of seven years each in state prison.

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Comments (7)

media watcher:

This is just the TIP of the ICEBURG in America.....
The government should stop all law enforcement activities 3X a week and chase the Welfare & Food Stamp scammers too.
This is where billion of dollars are going and WHY they "real" needy aren't getting help.
Oh I forgot.........those are Voters.
Sorry.

scottydriesen:

Lots of room at the Inn...you do the crime you will do the time. Stop this type of criminal activity with incarceration...they will only learn if it means jail time...and not a little....enough to show others that it's better to work another job than steal.

tjkoovalloor:

WESTCHESTER COUNTY DA SHOULD TAKE TOUGHER PUNISHMENTS AGAINST THESE CRIMINALS.

lovingeorge88:

Really? This guy got caught because he was the victim of a robbery and the cops were questioning him as to why he had $3,000 cash on him? What an idiot. Tell them "Am I under arrest or am I free to go? Having $3,000 cash on you is not a crime." Then when he gets released, stop that criminal shit and count your gains and move on. I'm all for justice and everything, but in this crime, the victim is the government and I could give a shit about that. This guy was trying to make some money on the side and it's not like he wasn't providing people with parking passes.

plavine:

In this case , it was crime since the money was not his.
note to self: if you are stealing from others, don't complain when you are robbed. This is priceless.

retiredtaxlady:

Really???? It's stealing stupid! You say you are all for justice and everything but you have no respect for authority. If they were stealing from you, would you be so cavalier? It is time people take responsibility for their actions. If this guy wanted to make some money on the side he should have gotten another legal job. Now he screwed himself out of a pension he would have gotten if he was honest; he committed a felony; he will have a criminal record and probably won't be able to get a good job when he gets out of jail.. What a future. You are right about one thing, he is an idiot and so are you if you think it's OK to steal from the government.

rastolzen@gmail.com:

I attended an event at the county center where several cell phones were stolen. I would suggest that this is a pattern of criminal activity in and around the center.

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