Director of Public Integrity
City of Rochester, NY
A month-long investigation by Rochester, New York's Democrat & Chronicle newspaper has revealed that the Rochester Police department regularly fixes tickets for fellow police officers, including their families and friends.
On a recent Saturday night in Rochester's East End nightclub scene, Rochester Police officer Paul Dondorfer illegally parked his Chevy Suburban outside a popular East Avenue bar in a handicapped space reserved for people with disabilities.
Two days later, a Rochester Police department Lieutenant voided the $ 100 ticket with the excuse, “Handicapped passenger on board. Courtesy extended.”
Rochester, NY Police Lt. Frank Alberti received a $ 35 ticket for parking his Jeep in a no-standing zone outside Geva Theatre Center in December of 2011.
The very next day, the ticket was voided with the justification, “Courtesy extended at Geva Theatre.”
In March 2011, Rochester Police officer Gregory Vasile dodged a $ 35 fine for displaying an expired inspection certificate in his Dodge Sedan.
The reason for the void?
A month later, RPD officer Vasile had still not renewed the inspection which had expired 10 months earlier, and was ticketed again.
And, again, the ticket was voided.
Rochester Police Officer Dennis Cole received nine tickets totaling $225 in fines over two years for parking at expired meters outside a stadium at the University of Rochester, where he was an assistant football coach at the time.
Every ticket was voided, mostly with dubious or no explanations.
In one case, tickets Cole and a fellow coach had received minutes apart in August 2011 were voided with the explanation, “Volunteers working at school — courtesy extended.”
Reached by phone, RPD officer Dennis Cole directed inquiries to a police spokesman. “Obviously, that’s nothing I can comment on,” he said.
Rochester, NY Police Officer Karl Berg received three tickets in 2010 for parking his Lexus in a No-Parking zone outside his house in the Corn Hill section of Rochester.
All three tickets were voided.
One of the void forms read, “Courtesy extended — Corn Hill resident.”
Berg once submitted and approved a void — a breach of protocol — for a ticket issued to a motorist parked illegally in front of his house.
In filling out the void a day after the ticket was issued, Berg wrote, “Vehicle moved — courtesy extended.”
Reached at his home, Berg declined to comment.
None of the Rochester Police officers cited in the D&C newspaper's story would speak to a reporter.
They all declined to comment or did not return messages left for them at their homes or work.
Even former Rochester Police department executive Chief George Markert, now the director of the City's Office of Public Integrity, received four tickets for parking illegally.
Markert's wife, also an RPD employee, received one ticket.
All four tickets were voided.
As an activist and writer exposing the Rochester, NY Police department's long history of misconduct and corruption, I have continuously pointed out their 'double standard', when it comes to their 'above the law' way of operating.
Ironically, George Markert, who is heading an ongoing investigation of administrative functions within the Parking Violations Bureau, including the voiding of tickets, defended his, and his wife's voided tickets.
“It’s pretty common for people who are authorized to park there to get a ticket voided,” Markert said. “It’s technically not a violation.”
This latest scandal is just another 'black eye' for the Rochester, NY Police department.
Just a couple of months ago, Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle newspaper investigated Rochester, NY Police officers violating the City's newly installed red-light cameras.
The D&C found that over an 18 month period, Rochester Police officers ran red lights or turned illegally on red lights at least 119 times, while on non-emergency calls.
In fact, Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard himself broke the law.
The RPD officers, including the Chief, not only broke the law, but as a result, put innocent lives in danger.
And, perhaps just as equally disturbing, due a a City policy, Rochester, N.Y. Police officers, including Chief Sheppard, can not be disciplined for violations.
"Payment of the related fine will not be required," according to a newly adopted city of Rochester procedure for handling the violations.
Another example of not only the RPD's 'above the law' status, but also of their disgusting double standard, when you consider that citizens who are caught in violation of the red-light cameras receive $ 50 fine, which can escalate to $ 75 if not paid.
In an April 18, 2012 Rochester News10NBC story titled "Rochester Raking In Red Light Revenue", Rochester, N.Y. Mayor Thomas Richards and city officials said they're making three times the amount the city originally expected, saying the city had so far collected more than $2 million in fines from approx. 9,000 violations per month.
And so, while hard-working Rochester residents who struggle to put food on the table for their families every day, are forced to go to court to dispute a parking violation, or pay the fine, it's business as usual with the Rochester, NY Police department, who simply 'void' their own tickets.
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