Monday, June 9, 2008

Disabled placard abusers targeted


He lives in one of Wellesley's most exclusive neighborhoods, owns a $1.8 million Nantucket vacation home, and has a small fleet of luxury cars at his disposal. But when Gerald Hamelburg drives downtown, he doesn't like to pay his way, according to investigators with the state inspector general's office.

The Boston lawyer, they say, uses his deceased mother's handicapped placard to park his Mercedes convertible, free of charge, at meters near the High Street firm that bears his name.

"It's a particularly obnoxious example of abuse. You use a fake placard to park in any space you want anytime you want to? It's absurd. It's horrible," said Inspector General Gregory Sullivan, whose office pursued Hamelburg for nearly two years as part of an investigation into the misuse of the placards. The investigation, which also involved the Registry of Motor Vehicles and State Police, turned up hundreds of placards that were being used by people who were not disabled and that had been originally issued to someone else.