Class action lawsuit accuses Brice of illegally collecting money from traffic tickets
BRICE, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) —
Earlier this month, Brice Police Chief Bud Bauchmoyer showed ABC 6/FOX 28 the camera he sometimes puts inside an orange barrel that many believe to be a speed trap.
He insisted it's not that, instead it's a protective cover for a camera he uses to catch drivers speeding through the tiny village where it's 25 mph limit.
"It's not like we're trying to hide something," said the chief.
But Franklin County Municipal Court Clerk Lori Tyack's not so sure.
"I'm very interested in seeing how the village of Brice is handling these types of cases," she said.
"On behalf of the public, I think it should be fully investigated."
Two years ago, the state shut down mayor's courts in towns with populations under 200. That decision forced Brice to turn over its court cases to Tyack's office. She said she received almost 500 cases, and what was in those files was shocking.
"The files that we received were incomplete," said Tyack.
"There were post-it notes indicating a defendant had paid for instance $25 on their fines and costs, but there were no balance sheets. There were no official records or accounting of all they money collected by that village during that time through the mayor's court."
Rather than lose that mayor's court money, the village went to a civil violations system.
Images captured by the speed camera are uploaded to an out-of-state company, which then mails out the ticket.
The company then splits the resulting fine, 50-50, with Brice.
In 2015, Tyack said she compared the village's traffic ordinances to Columbus.
"What we found were a number of situations where the village of Brice actually made up new laws that were not already on the books with the state or the city. And they made up the amounts that they wanted to collect on those violations."
Attorney David Goldstein said what Brice is doing is illegal.
"Here in the village of Brice, you get pulled over and the fines are enormous," he said.
"I mean much greater than they would be under the Ohio Revised Code. Once they realized they were collecting too much money, they enacted some additional legislation through their city council, reduced some of those fines. But what they do is if you go on a payment plan, they charge a fee for that. So, it's like $20 there. If you miss a payment, there's a fee for that."
Goldstein and attorney Gina Piacentino have filed a class action lawsuit, which accuses Brice of illegally collecting money from traffic tickets. It also asks that all of the money the village has collected from drivers under these civil citations be returned.
On February 16, Brice Mayor Amy Evans was asked for the village's financial records from the past two years. She said they're working on it.
ABC 6/FOX 28 also asked her for an on-camera interview to talk about the speed camera and fines. She said she would pass along the request to the village council, but didn't foresee it happening.