Who Did This Guy Piss Off?
Some really juicy ticket stuff in today’s Chicago Tribune.
Right on the front cover is a photo of Mark Geinosky fanning out a multiplicity of parking ticket violation notices from the city.
What did this guy do to piss off the cops? Whatever it was, it must have been pretty harsh.
According to the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Yates, The Problem Solver, Geinosky has received 24 completely bogus tickets in 16 months on a license plate that has been off his former vehicle for the past six months.
13 of the 24 tickets were issued by the same cop, nearly all sequential from the officer’s ticket book. Which means the only vehicle the cop writes tickets for is Geinosky’s.
Most of the tickets were for bogus violations at random addresses all over the south side.
Now Mr. Geinosky has fought and defeated all but one of these violations. He goes in for his, hopefully, final administrative hearing soon and will beat that one too, one would expect.
He filed a complaint with Chicago Police Internal Affairs, but they decided not to investigate and officially dropped the case Oct. 1, 2008.
But now, according to the newspaper, it seems that Internal Affairs has re-opened the case. This is probably due to the Trib sniffing around this story.
Out in the blogosphere, local blogger, Detective Shaved Longcock, had some thoughts and advice for rookies writing bogus tickets.
“But here is a hint for all you new young rookies – No matter if the tickets are legit or not, it is never good for you to write over a dozen citations (all citations numbered in a row) over a six month period to the same vehicle parked in different locations. One would have to wonder why the only vehicle you can find to write a ticket to over a six month period is this guy’s vehicle.”
But at the end of Yate’s piece, Geinosky asks, “I can’t help but ask myself how many others are being falsely targeted.”
Good question Mr. Geinosky. VERY good question.
The Chicago Tribune Problem Solver helps a man who kept getting parking tickets—for an SUV he no longer owned.
Over the last 16 months, Mark Geinosky has received 24 parking tickets.
All but one have been dismissed. You can bet that one will be thrown out, too, when he goes to administrative court next week.
For reasons Geinosky can’t explain, he believes Chicago police officers have targeted him with the barrage of citations—sometimes issuing four tickets at a time for such things as parking too close to a fire hydrant, obstructing the roadway or leaving his vehicle in a crosswalk.
Even after the Orland Park man traded in his Toyota Highlander in September, the tickets continued to roll in, issued to the old plate number—even though he took the plates off the vehicle and stashed them in his garage. Someone, he said, is out to get him. And he wants to know why.
Geinosky filed a complaint with the Independent Police Review Authority in September that promptly was forwarded to the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division.
On Oct. 1, Internal Affairs closed his case without investigation. “They said they don’t investigate parking tickets,” Geinosky, 48, said. “I said, ‘This isn’t parking tickets. This is harassment.’ “
With another court date looming and no end to the tickets in sight, Geinosky e-mailed What’s Your Problem?
“Either these are a ton of coincidences or my license plate is written on a bathroom wall somewhere and cops are saying, ‘Hey, I need to write some tickets,’ ” he said. “There seems to be a hole in the system.”
The Problem Solver called the Police Department last week to inquire about the tickets. On Saturday, Sgt. Antoinette Ursitti said, “Internal Affairs has launched an investigation.”
How bizarre is Geinosky’s case? Considering the following:
Of the 24 tickets he has received, 13 were written by the same officer. The Problem Solver is not naming the officer because he has not been charged with any wrongdoing. The 13 tickets were written at four different South Side locations in May, July, August and October of last year. All 13 of those tickets were written at exactly 10 p.m., no matter which day they were issued. And all 13 were sequential in number, meaning that from May to October that officer wrote no tickets to anyone other than Geinosky from the ticket book in question.
In some cases, the tickets were issued on desolate stretches of road where legal parking appeared to be readily available.
On Aug. 27, Geinosky received three tickets in the 1900 block of West 63rd Street: a $75 ticket for obstructing the roadway, a $100 ticket for parking within 15 feet of a fire hydrant and a $60 ticket for parking in a crosswalk. The block in question contains nothing but boarded-up buildings. The Problem Solver recently visited the location and found only one car parked in the entire block.
On Oct. 7, Geinosky received three more tickets in the 7300 block of South South Chicago Avenue: a $100 ticket for double parking, a $75 ticket for obstructing the roadway and a $75 ticket for leaving his car parked and unattended with the motor running. The address in question is in a block that runs parallel to the Chicago Skyway and has no buildings—just trash-filled, abandoned lots.
Geinosky insists he was never in any of the locations noted in the citations, and no tickets were ever placed on his vehicle. Each time, he learned about the tickets when a notice of violation arrived in the mail. He said the blizzard of citations started soon after a relationship with someone not involved in the Police Department turned sour.
After appearing in court seven times to have the tickets dismissed, Geinosky has earned a reputation at the courthouse.
“The last time I walked up, the hearing officer said, ‘Yeah, I remember you,’ and just kind of dismissed everything,” Geinosky said. “There were a couple of hearing officers who asked me why [the officer] has written me 13 tickets in a row. I say, ‘You have to ask [him].’ “
The Problem Solver asked the Police Department’s Office of News Affairs if he could speak to the officer but was told the officer was unavailable because of the investigation. Attempts to reach him at his home were unsuccessful.
Geinosky said someone from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division called him Thursday and told him to expect a call from an investigator. The investigator had not called by Monday afternoon. The Police Department vowed to investigate all 24 tickets, including those issued by at least two other officers. Geinosky said he does not know any of the officers in question. “All I’ve ever wanted to know is why [the officer] wants to write tickets against me, and all the officers before him.”
Next week, Geinosky will return to court to fight the one ticket that has not yet been dismissed—a $100 citation issued Dec. 1 for parking too close to a fire hydrant. It should be a slam dunk. All he has to do is show the hearing officer proof he no longer owned the car at the time and—voila—it should vanish like the rest of them.
But that doesn’t make him any less frustrated.
“I keep seeing the city’s push for amnesty to generate funds for the Revenue Department and I can’t help but ask myself how many others are being falsely targeted,” Geinosky said. “This seems to have no end, and no one wants to help me resolve this and make it stop.”
Story and photo copyright Chicago Tribune 2009.
Photo by Nuccio Dinuzzo.