A “Fine” Time Indeed

Here is good reason to always demand a receipt whenever dealing with the city.

Police are not arresting anyone wanted on a Class C misdemeanor warrant from Arlington until they determine whether the warrants are valid.

The municipal court system was thrown into confusion early this summer after a routine audit raised questions about cash receipts.

Crystal Leonguerrero, 22, of Arlington was indicted last month on charges of stealing thousands of dollars while collecting fines for misdemeanors and traffic violations. Leonguerrero, who was a criminal justice major at the University of Texas at Arlington, is free on $15,000 bail.

Officials worry that warrants could have been issued for people who in fact have paid their fines.

So far, they don’t think (but they don’t appear to be sure) that anyone was arrested for a fine that was already paid.  But you can imagine that it would be likely, since I’m sure cops have heard the “I paid that ticket” excuse a lot.  If it was me, I’d be pretty pissed if I had paid a traffic ticket fine only to get arrested later. 

Anyhow, it definitely points out lax supervision and controls at the court offices.  One of the actions taken by the city has been to post signs reminding people to ask for a receipt.  I wonder why the system didn’t automatically print them?  It would seem like something that should be part of the system’s checks and balances to prevent anyone from getting into this exact situation (i.e. a paper backup record showing that the fine was paid and that the warrant was cleared, if one had been issued).


  1. Cinomed says:

    One would hope things have changed, but back when I had a tendency to pay traffic tickets, the receipts were printed on a rather large impact printer that was an extra step.
    I remember several times being asked if I would LIKE a receipt, and always saying yes, even though it took an extra minute or so.

  2. Gerry N. says:

    When my son was a young man he had a distressing habit of getting traffic tickets.  When he went to pay them he was told at the counter that they didn’t have to give him a receipt.  After that, I told him to write the date, hour, name of whoever he paid the fine to, and the case number of the ticket, in ink in a small memo book and keep it.  He was arrested once on a bench warrant for non payment of a verdict and had his little memo book with him.  The Magistrate was very interested in the data in that little book and as a result the clerk who refused to issue receipts ended up serving time for various offenses related to her pocketing some of the fines and tossing the tickets in the trash.  Several managers in the court office were encouraged to seek employnent elsewhere (as in fired.)  The jurisdiction in question now issues receipts as a matter of course.  Oh yeah, the Magistrate called Arne’s little memo book a “concurrent record” and considered it to be a legal receipt.

  3. I’ve never had a ticket or had to pay a traffic fine, but whenever it comes to dealing with anything state-related that could land me in jail, I’m definitely going to want proof of payment. 

    I would have been very concerned if a clerk told me that they don’t issue receipts.  It sounds like your mistrust (i.e. getting your son to record the details) was not out of place. 

    I wonder just how common this sort of thing is?  Whenever you have an employee in a position of trust, there needs to be some kind of verification process.  If the receipts are not required via standard procedure or if the clerk can override any system checks, then it’s a recipe for fraud and theft.

  4. yeti says:

    This kind of local foul-up/criminal behavior shows up on your NICS check.  Believe me.  A so-called Outstanding Bench Warrant for a un-paid speeding ticket (Paid in Full) in Georgia in 1986 showed up on a NICS check in 2004 and took 4 months to resolve.  Finally the county clerk in Jawja said they had no records to confirm that the Bench Warrant was valid and then I sent that info to the effa bee eye and then got my shotgun.