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Woman battles county over 15-year-old parking tickets

Seven On Your Side
February 27, 2012 7:35:27 AM PST
The New York woman thought it was a bad joke. Nassau County trying to collect on 15 year old parking tickets she said she had paid back when President Clinton was in the White House. Turns out she's not alone, now the cash straped county that, a year ago was taken over by the state after it couldn't get it's financial house in order, is setting it's sights on collecting thousands of tickets from as far back as 20 years ago. is this government run amock or justified?

Outstanding parking tickets suddenly showed up in her mail from the year President Clinton was re-elected, the Unabomber was arrested, and the Yankees won the World Series for the first time since 1981.

"This was 15 years ago, I was commuting back and forth to grad school," the woman said.

The lady didn't want to be identified, but she still wanted to tell her story of what she feels is an attempt by Nassau County to unfairly plug a multi-million dollar unpaid parking ticket hole.

"Certainly it's quite a bit of money," the woman said, "Over $900."

She's been ordered to appear in court or pay $920. Nearly 8 times the original fines for 8 expired meter tickets, the former Nassau County resident insists she paid back in the mid 1990's.

"I have an excellent credit score, close to 800, I pay everything," the woman said. "Again I can't just show any check because who retains checks for 15 years?"

She doesn't have her checking account statements dating back that far. And banks are only required to keep records for 7 years. So she can't prove that she paid, and the county can't prove that she didn't.

She got what's titled a "second a final notice" this year, threatening her to pay up or be put in scofflaw status, ruin her credit score, and get towed or booted if caught.

When asked if the woman ever received any notification from the county about her tickets within the last 15 years, she said, "No. I don't see how they can place the burden on the individual when they in effect have mismanaged their own finances."

Just last month, days before notices went out, the county comptroller released a scathing audit review of parking ticket collections in Nassau County.

The report said the county hadn't adequately collected fines for outstanding parking and traffic tickets dating back to 1979, costing the county $123 million.

The period from 1987 to 2004, when our anonymous lady got her tickets, was deemed "uncollectible" in the auditor's report at a whopping loss of $27 million for the county.

"They didn't do a good job collecting their parking tickets and so in an effort to recoup millions of dollars they lost in revenue while laying off people in nassau county they are going after their lost revenue," the woman said.

"It's more than a pain, it's just not fair."

7 On Your Side spoke to the new head of the Parking Violation Agency on her behalf. He said Nassau County has no statute of limitations governing the collection of parking tickets. But eventually he compromised, knocking down 15 years of penalties and interest to the original fine.

"So nice to see you again," the woman said, "I am so appreciative, I spoke to the Judge after 7 On Your Side spoke to him."

Instead of $920, the county will settle for $120, a savings of $800.

"I couldn't be more happy that 7 On Your Side helped me," the woman said.

In New York City there's an 8 year and 3 month statute of limitations on parking tickets. But in Nassau there is none.

Eyewitness News spoke to the new head of their unit, he said Nassau County tried an amnesty program last year, but this year, they will vigorously pursue tickets as far back as 20 years.

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