Dauphin County steps up pursuit of unpaid fees, fines - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin County steps up pursuit of unpaid fees, fines

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George Facer doesn't dispute that he got a speeding ticket in Hummelstown in 2002.

Court records show he appealed to Dauphin County Court and ultimately lost in 2003. Facer says he left the courtroom and went to the courthouse basement and paid the fine.

But then he got a letter this week saying he owes $44 dollars in outstanding court costs. It concludes with the threat of a contempt of court hearing if he doesn't pay up.

This, he does dispute.

"I feel bullied," Facer said. "This was a decade, over a decade ago."

Facer says he didn't keep the receipt from the court and his bank told him it destroys records of checks after seven years.

"It's definitely unfair," he said. "I can go back and say to anybody, 'you owe me money from 11 years ago,' and how do you prove otherwise unless you have records?"

Chad Libby runs Dauphin County Probation and Parole and he admits the county stepped up efforts in November to recoup unpaid fines. Five hundred "pay-up" letters have gone out in the past two months and $22,000 has already been recouped.

"My staff has gone after every docket that's out there that still owes money," Libby said.

Libby says there's $29.1 million in owed money dating back to 2000, and in tough economic times it's important to aggressively go after it.

He pulled Facer's file and suspects that he paid the fine for the speeding, but not the $44 fee for filing an appeal. It's that $44 that Dauphin County wants from Facer.

We asked Libby if he thinks it's fair to come after a 10-year old debt.

"I don't think it's about being fair," he said. "I think it's about the integrity of the court process. It's about being held accountable for your actions and these were fees as a result of your actions."

Facer sees it differently.

"Come on! If I'm owing somebody money, especially a county government, they would've gotten in touch with me a year or even three years after the fact," he said.

Facer says he'd like to fight it on principle but a lawyer's too expensive to haggle over $44.

Local attorney Corky Goldstein's free advice: pay it.

"If he had a receipt that would be different," Goldstein said. "But maybe he didn't pay it. The burden of proof is on him. Pay the $44 and move on with your life."

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