A year later, no answers in parking ticket probe

Ed Walsh

The mysterious parking tickets that once filled Mark Geinosky's mailbox have stopped arriving.

That's all well and good.

But one year after the Problem Solver first wrote about Geinosky's rash of 24 unwarranted tickets, the Orland Park man still has no idea who wrote them, or why.

Chicago police say their investigation into the matter continues, but many questions remain in what ranks as one of What's Your Problem's most bizarre cases.

"The whole situation is just nuts," Geinosky said. "Life's other problems take precedence, but you just want to know what happened so you can move on."

For those of you who don't recall the details, Geinosky received the two dozen tickets over a span of 16 months for supposedly parking in crosswalks, near fire hydrants and double parking, among other infractions.

The tickets were signed by Chicago police officers, including 13 that were written sequentially off the same ticket book.

All 24 tickets were thrown out in administrative court after Geinosky proved neither he nor his car were present when the tickets were written. Some of the tickets were issued after Geinosky sold his car and his old license plates were sitting in his garage.

After the Problem Solver inquired about the case for his Feb. 24, 2009, column, the police department launched an internal investigation.

That probe continues, and a police spokesman promises the end is near.

"The investigation is in its final stages," said Roderick Drew.

Although it might appear simple, Geinosky's case is not cut and dried, Drew said.

"They had a lot of information, a lot of interviews to conduct," he said. "There was a lot of legwork that had to go into this investigation."

A review of Geinosky's tickets shows some were signed by at least three different officers. It's unclear how many officers are being investigated.

"Whoever it was abused their powers," Geinosky said. "Whoever it comes down to should be dealt with."

Whatever the outcome, Geinosky said, he is encouraged by a proposal by Ald. Ginger Rugai (19th) that would require city personnel to include a photo of the infraction when writing a parking ticket.

Geinosky said Rugai's proposal, which has yet to be discussed by any City Council committee, would have prevented his tickets from being issued.

"My first response is, too bad I can't vote for this alderman," Geinosky said. "I can't see how anything like this would ever pass. It makes too much sense. It will get buried somewhere."

Rugai said it was not her intention to incorporate police officers in her proposal, but, as currently written, police are included.

"The purpose is to give some real credibility to these violations and to give people some evidence to contest them," Rugai said. "So many people don't challenge a ticket because they just don't have anything."

Ed Walsh, a spokesman for the Department of Revenue, said the city's parking-enforcement aides have cameras in their hand-held devices and are encouraged to take photos of violations that are visually obvious, such as city sticker or license plate violations.

Walsh said the photos are included with the first notice of violation motorists receive and are posted online.

"In our experience, it's made more sense with certain violations than with others," he said. "But, yes, we support the concept of including a photo when it makes sense to do so."

Walsh said police officers do not carry cameras. Police, however, write more than half of the tickets issued in Chicago, Walsh said, including all of the two dozen Geinosky received.

While he's thrilled the tickets have stopped, Geinosky remains anxious.

"The tickets have ended, but you still think, ‘What was the cause of it?''' he said. "It comes up in your mind every now and then."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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