4
| Crime |

Miami-Dade's Parking Department in "Complete Disarray," Thousands of Dollars Missing

^
Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

Ever parked in a Miami-Dade County-run parking garage? You'd be hard-pressed to find a customer who'd call the county's parking hubs models of efficient business. But a new report from the Miami-Dade Inspector General suggests the department's problems are far worse than anyone had guessed.

Deposits went missing, checks and cash were strewn in drawers around the office, and thousands of dollars were allegedly snatched by employees with sticky fingers, inspectors revealed in a report released late Wednesday. One employee — 24-year-old Jose Valladares — was arrested on charges of stealing upward of $5,000 from the coffers, and several other workers were suspended pending further investigation.

"[Inspectors], upon receiving a complaint from a garage patron that his check for monthly parking had not been cashed for three months, conducted an initial review of the Parking Management Office and found it in complete disarray," Mary T. Cagle, the county's inspector general, writes in the report.

The investigation stemmed from that complaint as well as a broader countywide concern that reportedly began when parking garages switched to automated pay systems last year. Suddenly, revenue boomed — leaving administrators scratching their heads about where all the missing cash had gone when employees were in charge of taking garage payments. 

When the Inspector General's office began looking into the problem, they found a department with a ramshackle accounting system and few checks and balances on low-level employees handling cash. "Significant sums of money were missing," Cagle writes.

Valladares was the first alleged thief fingered by the inspectors. The young employee's job was to take payments for monthly parking spots, recording the cash received, and then sending that money to a general account. Instead, he's accused of pocketing thousands of dollars' worth of payments.

When investigators confronted him, he allegedly admitted to taking the cash and handed over receipts for missing cash totaling $6,088; later, inspectors found about $1,300 at Valladares' home.

Valladares is charged with felony grand theft in the scheme, but he's not likely to be the only parking employee facing criminal charges. Investigators caution that "the amount of money that Valladares admitted to taking is just a fraction of the amount of money unaccounted for."  

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.