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Prince George's ticket writer accused of issuing fake citations

Wednesday - 6/12/2013, 9:30am  ET

WASHINGTON - A Prince George's County parking ticket writer is facing criminal charges for allegedly falsifying more than $2,600 in citations.

Authorities say former Prince George's County Revenue Authority employee Antoine Budd was investigated after at least 10 people complained earlier this year about tickets they'd received for parking in a fire lane -- a violation that carries a $200 fine.

Those complaining said their vehicles weren't in the spots listed on the tickets when they were issued. Authorities say all of the tickets were issued by Budd.

Ticket writers with the county agency also are encouraged to take pictures of illegally parked vehicles for fire lane violations, but a review showed no picture was taken in eight of the 10 cases and two pictures were not visible and completely black. A check of the camera showed it was working properly and was used to take other ticket-related pictures around the same time, authorities say.

Authorities say a review of the tickets also showed that the license plate numbers on the citations didn't match the vehicle make and model assigned to those tag numbers.

"The Revenue Authority takes these charges very seriously and I am pleased that the oversight mechanisms that are in place worked in this particular case," Revenue Authority Executive Director Peter Shapiro said in a statement.

The county's practice of encouraging ticket writers to photograph the license plates of ticketed cars is an effort to avoid typographical errors that could end up punishing an innocent driver.

It's similar to a practice by the D.C. Department of Public Works in which most tickets also have a photo attached to ensure accuracy. Ticket writers with the D.C. Department of Transportation do not take photos, but DDOT has agreed to revisit the issue after WTOP brought it to the agency's attention.

Montgomery County in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia do not take photos.

Budd has been indicted on counts of perjury, forgery and counterfeiting, issuing of false documents and misconduct in office.

An official with knowledge of the probe tells The Washington Times that Budd issued the tickets to meet unofficial quotas because he thought his supervisors weren't happy with his performance.

However, Shapiro tells WTOP the agency does not give quota requirements to its ticket writers.

"We don't operate with any kind of a quota system," Shapiro says. "We may look for large gaps in service, which would indicate that an officer may not be on the job when he or she is supposed to be."

Shapiro says Budd was suspended during an internal investigation into the ticket allegations and subsequently fired.

This story has been modified to correct that Budd was fired instead of resigning from his position, and to clarify that the revenue authority does not require its ticket writers to take photographs.

WTOP's Ari Ashe contributed to this report. Follow @ariasheWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.