NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) – A local judge has sent a big bill to the village of Newburgh Heights for not following the law while issuing thousands of tickets to drivers on I-77 with traffic cameras.
Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Deborah Nicastro told the I-Team last month that Newburgh Heights is breaking the law by not filing I-77 camera tickets with the court.
The judge said that is required by law and the village has kept all of the money from the tickets for itself by avoiding paying a court filing fee.
Now, Judge Nicastro, the presiding judge of Garfield Heights Municipal Court, signed an order saying the village must file all of the tickets it has not filed previously. And, the village must pay a $9 filing fee for each of those tickets. That adds up to a bill of more than $85,000.
The order also says the village ceased filing I-77 tickets with the court around March 16.
The judge has said she was told village officials did not want to pay the $9 filing fee. The court order names the Newburgh Heights mayor, the police chief and the company that processes the tickets.
The order states the following:
“Now, therefore, it is hereby ordered, adjudged and decreed that the village, Gatso, Mayor (Gigi) Traore and Chief (John) Majoy shall, on or before June 22, 2023, file any and all tickets issued on I-77, that have not previously been filed with the court, and pay the advance filing fees or appear on July 5, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. at Garfield Heights Municipal Court, 5555 Turney Road, Garfield Heights, Ohio 44125, Courtroom No. 1 to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court.”
So, what happens if the village doesn’t pay? Village leaders could go to jail.
The ruling further notes the penalty for contempt of court is up to 30 days in jail and up to a $250 fine and court costs per ticket not filed with the court.
Drivers have told us they are disgusted. They argue the traffic cameras are more about money than safety since drivers don’t even know they got caught speeding until they get tickets in the mail weeks later.
They also say if they are being given tickets and told to pay, village officials should be held accountable as well.
The court also stated that Newburgh Heights officials are on pace to issue 70,000 speed camera tickets this year.
“It don’t make no sense to be this aggressive,” said Melissa Hargrove. “Standing out there on the highway. I mean, you should be fighting crime.”
The I-Team has tried for weeks to talk to the mayor and chief about the issue. The mayor ignored our questions when we caught up to her last month. She has also declined to return phone calls or emails.
The chief also has not returned phone calls.