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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Speeding Ticket Recipients Allege Police Corruption

Speeding ticket recipients allege police corruption
KAIT8 TV - ABC by Lori Brown - November 3, 2009

JERICHO, AR (WMC-TV) - Jericho residents tell stories that, if, true, paint a picture of a corrupt small town police department. In the latest chapter in the ongoing Jericho traffic ticket drama, Bill Masterson of Holly Springs, Mississippi, says he wasn't speeding when a Jericho police officer pulled him over. "He said I was going 59. I said, 'Sir, can I see that radar gun?' He said, 'No, I don't have to show you nothing. You can go to jail," said Masterson. He says he was then asked to fork over cash. "He told me I could pay $150 dollars and it was done. I said, 'I ain't going to do that.' " Masterson says he tried to pay his ticket at city hall, but no one was there. The following week, he again drove 66 miles from Holly Springs to Jericho for traffic court, but court was canceled. Finally, last Thursday, he went before a Jericho judge. "They brought six police in, and I said, 'Mercy alive, ya'll hire six police for a town of 200 people?'" The judge wouldn't dismiss the ticket, and the $150 ticket increased to $205 for court costs. Then the judge wouldn't accept a check. "He said, 'we don't take nothing but cash.' He said, 'You've got it, go ahead and get on up off of it,'" said Masterson. "And the police was standing right there looking down on me, and I said, 'I feel like I'm being pressured here.' " The judge finally accepted Masterson's check after he refused to pay cash. "Cash they can pocket it, check they have to turn it into the state and county. I've paid plenty of speeding tickets, but when I'm not speeding, I'm not paying it," said Masterson. But Masterson did pay the ticket out of fear of being thrown in jail. The tree trimmer says he could have used the $200 as the slow winter season sets in. In a phone call Sunday night, Jericho Police Department's assistant chief wouldn't answer Action News 5's questions about the tickets or why the town would only accept cash.

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