Sheriff's Clerk Mistakenly Faxes Request To Dismiss Speeding Ticket To Newspaper

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) -- A records clerk for an Illinois sheriff's office admits she goofed when she mistakenly faxed a request to have a deputy's son's speeding ticket fixed to the local newspaper.

Joann Reed tried to use a St. Clair County Sheriff's Department fax machine to send a copy of the ticket issued by Centreville police to that village's attorney, only to accidentally fire off the fax to the Belleville News-Democrat newsroom.

"Dismiss this case," read a handwritten note accompanying the three-page message signed by Reed. "The guy is the son of one of our deputies."

"Guilty. Period," Reed later told a News-Democrat reporter after being questioned about the fax.

But she insisted she falsely suggested the ticketed motorist was the son of a deputy but actually a college student she was trying to help out. She said she figured the misrepresentation would help get the ticket with a $175 fine tossed.

The News-Democrat reported otherwise, saying reporters discovered the Aug. 18 ticket for going 23 miles per hour over the speed limit was issued to a deputy's son.

Centreville's village attorney, Carmen Durso, said he was powerless to do anything about the ticket anyway, noting he can't dismiss violations of state law, such as speeding tickets.

"I get calls like these all the time," he said. "I don't think it's unusual or strange."

Sheriff Mearl Justus pledged to investigate. He said he'll "find out what it's about," then weigh disciplinary action.

"I'll look at the whole thing. I'll take some action," he said.

The county's top prosecutor, Brendan Kelly, said his office received no request to dismiss the ticket.

While declining to discuss the case specifically, "the decision to charge or dismiss rests solely with my office and that decision can't be based on who you know or who your mother is," Kelly said.

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