Seattle official a meter cheater with help from parking officer

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on May 4, 2011 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 4 at 10:37 PM

SEATTLE -- KING 5 News has learned a Seattle parking enforcement officer is under investigation, accused of offering a friend a sweet deal to evade the growing costs of parking downtown.

That friend is a high-level administrator in Seattle city government. Bryon Tokunaga is the Director of Business Technology for the Department of Finance and Administration.  The job pays him $125,000 a year, according to public records.

“Bryon was really excited about the situation," said a woman who wanted to be identified only as "Mary.” "He was like, 'I really scored. I don't have to pay for parking.'"

"Mary" used to be friends with Tokunaga and recalled him “gloating” about his free parking arrangement in the fall of last year.

It was about the same time the City of Seattle hiked the cost of parking on city streets to one of the highest rates in the country.

"Mary" said Tokunaga told her that a Seattle parking officer who patrolled the area around the city Municipal Tower downtown was involved. She said Officer Allison “Al” Quan would locate Tokunaga’s car and place a warning notice on his windshield instead of a ticket. A warning notice does not impose a fine, and it would look to other officers as if the car has already been ticketed.
 
Quan is not only a parking enforcement officer, he’s also a 20-year reserve police officer on the Seattle force.
 
"Everyone's trying to make ends meet right now and the fact that someone that enforces these rules is involved with it is unacceptable," said "Mary," who was interviewed by Seattle Police internal investigators.

Seattle Police say they were tipped a couple of months ago.

While an internal investigation isn't closed yet, it found that Quan issued four warnings to Tokunaga in one month's time.

"There were four times where they received a courtesy notice and other people who were committing virtually the same violation were receiving the financial penalty, the parking ticket," said Seattle Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb.

Tokunaga's manager at Seattle’s Department of Finance and Administration refused an on-camera interview.   

Bryon Tokunaga did not respond to repeated calls and emails. When a KING 5 News crew approached him outside the Seattle Municipal Tower this week, he drove off.

"It’s just upsetting,” said "Mary." “The city is how many millions in deficit? They keep raising the price of parking to get more money. And then they're involved in this, a city director and a police officer. That's just ridiculous."
 
Two Seattle Police sources said the internal investigation found that parking officer Quan did abuse his position, but his punishment is still being determined.
 
 

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