What to Know
Forty-six ice cream trucks were seized from owners who allegedly amassed 22,000 traffic fines totaling about $4.5 million since 2009
The city says these owners tried to evade paying the hefty debt by creating "shell" companies
The alleged scheme took place from 2009 to 2017
Forty-six ice cream trucks were seized from owners who allegedly amassed 22,000 traffic fines totaling about $4.5 million since 2009 and evaded paying the hefty debt, according to New York City officials.
The seizure, known as "Operation Meltdown," comes after the truck owners allegedly amassed the traffic violation fines through a scheme in which dozens of "shell" companies were created to avoid enforcement efforts by the city's Department of Finance, according to the city's complaint.
The complaint alleges that the group operated companies that accrued 22,000 summonses for violations, including running red lights, parking near fire hydrants and blocking pedestrian crosswalks between 2009 and 2017.
The alleged scheme was based off a "periodic, systematic and repeated re-registration of the ice cream trucks with the State of New Yorks Department of Motor Vehicles under the names of various shell corporations," the city said.
Burlington County Prosecutor's Office
Subsequently, the Department of Finance attempted to collect the debt through demand notices and information subpoenas to banks, but was unsuccessful, according to city officials.
Allegedly, the Department found the debtors never had bank accounts, and any trace information to the owners no longer existed by the time the Department attempted to reach them.
The citys lawsuit requires the trucks owners to pay the city damages and prevents them from transferring the ownership of the vehicles that have outstanding parking summonses.