Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rochester, NY Police Chief James Sheppard Approves of RPD Ticket-Fixing Scheme

Rochester, NY Police Chief
James Sheppard
By Davy V.

Approximately 7,762 total parking tickets voided, and 2,269 void request slips submitted by Rochester, NY Police personnel in about a three year span.

At least 245 of those void requests submitted, involved vehicles owned by Rochester, NY Police officers.

Those are the numbers involving the Rochester, NY Police department's ticket-fixing scheme involving officers.

I first wrote about this scandal after the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper concluded a month-long investigation, which revealed that the Rochester, NY Police department regularly fixes tickets for fellow police officers, including their families and friends.

Take, for example, Rochester, NY Police officer Paul Dondorfer.

On a Saturday night, in Rochester's East End nightclub scene, officer Dondorfer illegally parked his Chevy Suburban outside a popular East Avenue bar in a handicapped space reserved for people with disabilities.

Just two days later, a Rochester Police department Lieutenant voided the $ 100 ticket with the excuse, “Handicapped passenger on board. Courtesy extended.”

Another ticket fix the investigation revealed involved Rochester, NY Police Lt. Frank Alberti.

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.”b

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?

“Professional courtesy.”

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.

The reason?

“Professional courtesy.”

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 the RPD's '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.”

So what does Rochester, NY Police Chief James Sheppard have to say about his department's 'Good ol' boys' way of looking out fellow officers?

Well, apparently not much.

In announcing the conclusion of the RPD's internal investigation into the ticket-fixing scandal, Chief Sheppard said "Although this is not a good practice, these cases did not merit individual discipline since the action was approved by a high ranking officer."

And remember those 245 void requests involving vehicles owned by Rochester Police officers?

Only 190 were located.

What happened to the other 55?


So the next time you or your loved one receives a ticket, and have to scrape up money to pay for it, just think, Rochester, NY Police officers don't have to pay for theirs.

But you do.

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