Jason Rivera, 45, of Staten Island, incurred the penalties for parking and traffic violations as well as unpaid E-Z Pass tolls, authorities said. He faces a charge of grand larceny, the New York Daily News reported.
A criminal complaint said Rivera found the plates in 2016 and gave them to a friend, who then returned them to Rivera a year later, the city Department of Investigation concluded.
"These types of crimes undermine the government's ability to do its job and maintain a standard of safety on the roads," said DOI Commissioner Magaret Garnett. "These offenses are particularly egregious when committed by a city employee who used his job as a means to commit a crime."
Prosecutors say that Rivera racked up 72 parking and traffic violations totaling $5,500, as well as $1,793.50 in unpaid tolls and $10,600 in unpaid fees, the New York Post reported.
The plates were not registered to his vehicle, or any vehicle, the paper reported, making it difficult to determine who was responsible for the fines. The department began an inquiry after receiving a complaint from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
An investigator confronted Rivera about the pocketed plates and said he confessed to using them.
"Misusing New York State license plates, ignoring traffic and parking violations and failing to pay tolls are crimes that will result in arrest and prosecution," Garnett said.
Rivera is expected back in court on Oct. 10.