A small-town Florida mayor was arrested for using dead people’s handicapped placards to park at City Hall.
Davenport Mayor Teresa Darlene Bradley, 60, faces felony charges of using a deceased person’s identification and possession of an altered or counterfeit decal on a handicapped placard. Both charge carry prison terms of up to five years.
The information came from a tip from a citizen. Polk County Sheriff’s deputies then obtained surveillance video of Bradley parking in a handicapped space at Davenport City Hall on Monday night. She was seen lifting a briefcase from the trunk of her car and walking inside, where she was attending a City Council meeting, according to the arrest affidavit. Here’s the video:
Here’s the crazy part: during a search of her home, deputies found a handicapped placard issued to Evelyn Klinger Letterman, who died in August 2012, the affidavit states. The placard expired in October 2013, but had been altered to reflect a 2018 expiration date, records show.
The other placard had been issued to someone who died in 2015, though that person isn’t named in the affidavit.
Bradley was booked into the Polk County Jail on Tuesday, and was released after posting $2,250 bail. Davenport is located about an hour southwest of Orlando. Bradley has served as mayor since 2013 and was re-elected on April 4 to a third term with 63 percent of the vote, or 307 votes.
“We expect our elected officials to set the proper example,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. “She not only violated the law, she embarrassed the citizens of Davenport with her illegal conduct.”
Deputies surveilled the parking lot multiple times during their investigation. The last operation was on Monday, when an identity-theft strike force staked out city hall and allegedly witnessed Bradley park in the same spot, with the same placard, then walk inside to sit through a council meeting.
Afterward she got back in the car, took the placard off the mirror and drove away, deputies wrote.
She was arrested the next day and charged with identity theft, counterfeiting a decal, and illegally parking in a handicapped spot.
Bradley could not be reached for comment.
“We were shocked,” City Manager Kelly Callihan told The Washington Post. He said the mayor would have to step down if she is convicted, and the governor could also intervene and suspend her until her trial concludes.
The city commissioners will meanwhile hold an emergency meeting on Thursday “to discuss all options,” Callihan said.
He said he had no idea whether the mayor would attend that meeting. There might be an extra parking space.
Amazingly, last spring, the local newspaper endorsed her for re-election, saying her term had been “scandal free.” If only they knew!
What do you think about all of this? Should Mayor Bradley be forced to resign? Or do you think that this small town will forgive her and let her continue to run the city? Do you live in a small town? Let us know your thoughts about this unbelievable story in the comments below!