Aspen Police: Woman used dead woman’s handicap parking privileges
Police ticketed a 49-year-old local woman last month for using a dead woman’s handicapped parking placard, according to a police report.
Susan Dillingham, who admitted using the placard, was charged with misdemeanor fraud after an Aspen police officer confirmed that she used the placard to get out of a parking ticket in December, the report states.
“I made a mistake,” Dillingham said Friday.
Police first learned about the alleged fraud when a person who requested anonymity reported Feb. 16 that Dillingham frequently displayed the placard, which was registered to a woman who died at the age of 80 in January 2016, according to the police report.
Aspen police Officer Jeremy Johnson talked to Dillingham later the same day, showed her a picture of the placard and asked if she’d ever seen it, the report states.
“Dillingham said something along the lines of, ‘Yeah I use it from time to time, but only when I need to,’” Johnson wrote in his report. “I asked Dillingham how often she uses the placard and she said, ‘I never use that in a handicapped spot.’”
Johnson also asked who owned the placard. Dillingham first said it was in her car when she got it, then told the officer her boyfriend told her she could use it, the report states. Dillingham later admitted the person who owned the placard was her boyfriend’s grandmother, the woman who died more than a year ago.
“I asked Dillingham if she had ever used the handicapped placard to get out of a parking ticket,” Johnson wrote in his report. “Dillingham said something along the lines of, ‘No, I only use it when I need to, like outside my work when I need to run in for like 20 minutes.’”
However, Johnson checked with the Aspen Parking Department and learned that Dillingham received a parking ticket Dec. 19, which was dismissed Dec. 23 when she brought in the handicapped placard, according to the report.
The officer told Dillingham she could not use the placard anymore.
Dillingham told The Aspen Times on Friday that she never used the handicapped placard to park in handicapped parking spots.
Drivers with handicapped placards can park in any legal parking space in Aspen for free, said Mitch Osur, Aspen’s parking director. He also said he suspects Dillingham isn’t the only non-handicapped person using a handicapped placard.
“(It happens) probably more than you’d think,” he said. “It’s definitely an issue. There’s no question there’s some sharing going on.”
Handicapped placards are issued by the Pitkin County Clerk’s Office, not the Parking Department, Osur said.
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