The Slatest

New York City Seizes Ice Cream Trucks for Shell Company Scheme to Dodge $4.5 Million in Parking Tickets

An ice cream truck is parked on the street in New York City on September 26, 2016.
Ice cream is serious business in New York City.
John Lamparski/Getty Images

New York City has launched what it’s calling “Operation Meltdown” in an attempt to crack down on rampant financial gamesmanship among the ice cream truck vendors that roam the city and avoid paying millions of dollars in parking tickets. The city says there is a widespread practice of repeatedly creating new shell companies to register and then reregister the trucks to allow operators to hopscotch away from paying gradually accruing fines on parking and traffic tickets that piled up as they sought out the most lucrative street corners to sell soft serve.

“[The truck operators] sought to evade enforcement of our traffic laws through an elaborate shell game, transferring ownership of their ice cream trucks between and among dozens of phony companies, effectively shielding their trucks from fines and seizure,” the city’s corporation counsel said. The scheme amounted to a whopping 22,000 summonses from 2009 to 2017, which translated into nearly $4.5 million in fines, according to the city.

“City officials also released images of ice cream trucks operating illegally in bus lanes and in no-standing zones in front of Manhattan landmarks like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral,” the New York Times reports. “While operating an ice cream truck in less urban areas may simply mean pulling up to a park, ball field or schoolyard, in Midtown Manhattan it means contending with some of the tightest parking regulations around, an area the legal complaint calls ‘the most densely congested streets in New York City.’ ”

Part-time presidential candidate, but full-time dessert crime-fighting machine Bill de Blasio said [in Arnold Schwarzenegger voice] the raid “marks the end of the road for these scofflaw ice cream vendors.”

Ice cream vendor scofflaws! Mayor Bill “End of the Road” de Blasio for president!