JP councilman wants to refund red-light ticket payers

Published: Mar. 8, 2013 at 3:04 AM CST|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:56 PM CDT
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Anybody who paid a fine from a red-light camera ticket in Jefferson Parish may get a refund, if one council member gets his way.

For three years, cameras were stationed around Jefferson Parish, catching people who ran red lights. $20 million was collected from violators.

Councilman Chris Roberts wants to refund money to ticket payers because the company that owned the cameras, Redflex, is being investigated for a bribery scheme in Chicago involving a former city official who oversaw their camera program.

Roberts says, "There appears to be some kind of connection between the individuals who represented Redflex in Chicago and those that represented them here on the Jefferson Parish contract."

In 2010, federal investigators subpoenaed Redflex for documents relating to its contract with Jefferson Parish.

Roberts refund proposal comes as welcome news to some drivers.

Jim McCoin said, "I had quite a few tickets. I'd like to get all my money back."

McCoin's son Brandon added, "Everybody should get their money back, especially if they have all these allegations against the company. It's people's money."

Actually getting that money may not be as easy as it sounds.

The $20 million sits in an escrow account. A judge ruled the money cannot be touched because so many class action lawsuits have been filed challenging the legality of the cameras.

Roberts hopes a judge will remove the hold on the account because of the allegations against Redflex. But FOX 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti is doubtful, saying, "I just don't think it's going to happen because there's still pending litigation and there's a lot of people who want a piece of that big pie.  And to get this to just go away like that... I don't think so."

Even if a judge were to sign off on it, Raspanti thinks there could be years of legal wrangling.  He warns, "Do not expect it to come quickly if at all. There's too many lawyers involved, there's too many parties involved."

Not everyone thinks a refund for red-light violators is the best idea.

Driver Michelle Robertson says, "If you run a red light, that's potentially costing someone a life. You know what I mean? So if you do something wrong, you should pay for it."

Most drivers we spoke with agree that the same goes for Redflex. They say, if it's found the company was engaged in anything illegal in Jefferson Parish, they too should pay for it.

A number of other Jefferson Parish council members we spoke with say they support Roberts' proposal. He'll bring up the issue at next week's council meeting.