Reporting Dave Savini
(CBS) — A four-year battle with the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority has one man crying foul.
The I-Pass holder was hit with fines and then more, even bigger fines after requesting a hearing.
So, he contacted CBS 2′s Dave Savini for help.
For two years, Joe Greco has been battling the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority over $57.60 in missed tolls.
Greco says this is a David versus Goliath situation.
“And Goliath carries a big stick,” he says.
Greco’s credit card on file with the Tollway and he and his wife did not catch it soon enough. He had racked up $57.60 in unpaid tolls, which then doubled to $115.20 as punishment for letting his card expire.
“It didn’t make sense to me, so I kept questioning,” Greco said. “I wasn’t getting the answers to my questions, so I requested a hearing.”
Greco says the toll violations dated back to 2008, but he wasn’t notified until August 2010. He says he wanted a hearing because so much time had passed and wanted proof the Toll Highway Authority had its facts right.
What happened next, he says, should make everyone afraid to request a violation hearing, which is run by hearing officers paid by the Toll Highway Authority.
Greco lost his hearing, and his $115.20 bill skyrocketed to $3,000.
According to Tollway officials, toll violators who ask for a hearing and lose are hit with an extra $20 fine for each and every violation. Then, if the motorist who lost doesn’t within 14 days it gets even worse.
“They said if I didn’t pay the $3,000, I’d be liable for fines totaling more than $10,000,” Greco says.
He continued to battle, twice filing appeals against the Toll Highway Authority in the DuPage County court system. Both times, he won new hearings because the Tollway hearing lawyers failed to turn over his records.
There is some good news for Greco.
The two hearing officers in his case have been temporarily removed for failing to comply with procedures. For the time being, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office will oversee Tollway hearings.
Meanwhile, Greco’s $3,000 fine is being forgiven, but he needs to pay the earlier penalty of $115.20.
Still, Greco is angry that I-Pass holders are first fined for account lapses, and then fined thousands more if they request a hearing and lose.
Illinois Tollway officials say this link explains how the toll violation and fine process works.