View Full Version : Steelers' James Harrison Fights Tickets

03-09-2009, 09:21 PM
Steelers' James Harrison Fights Tickets; Investigation Continues
Pennsylvania, Allegheny County Look Into McCandless Court Situation

http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/all ... etail.html (http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/allegheny/18887352/detail.html)

POSTED: 11:17 am EDT March 9, 2009
UPDATED: 7:07 pm EDT March 9, 2009

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers linebacker James Harrison had a hearing Monday morning to fight the reinstatement of two speeding tickets that were originally reported in a Team 4 investigation on so-called "irregularities" in McCandless District Court.

In a Team 4 exclusive report, Harrison got one of the tickets thrown out by Allegheny County Judge Robert Gallo because the officer who issued it is in Iraq and was not at the hearing Monday.

Gallo reduced Harrison's other ticket from the original speed amount of 81 mph -- which could have caused Harrison to lose his driver's license -- to just 5 mph over the posted 40 mph speed limit.

In November, Team 4's Jim Parsons reported that the state auditor general and Allegheny County police were investigating how speeding tickets -- including Harrison's -- got dismissed, and whether a terminated court employee was pocketing fine money.

"I don't know (the employee) or what happened. That's why I'm here now," Harrison said Monday, outside the courtroom.

Harrison's tickets were issued by McCandless police Officer David Martin and another officer in June 2007 for allegedly driving 81 mph in a 40 mph zone on Perry Highway. Court records show Harrison was originally convicted of both citations -- but then later, inexplicably, one ticket was dismissed and the other was lowered in severity.

Harrison said he only remembered getting the tickets and setting a court date, and he got no follow-up correspondence in the mail, so his lawyer filed an appeal that was heard by Gallo on Monday.

In the appeal, Harrison said that the dismissed court employee somehow reduced one of his tickets and dismissed the other one, even though he didn't show up for his original court hearing.

"This problem was brought to our attention by District Judge (William) Wagner, who noticed some irregularities in the financial transactions of his office," Ray Billotte, district court administrator for Allegheny County, said in November.

County detectives interviewed Harrison about the matter last year.

"All they wanted to know is what happened with the ticket and if I knew (the employee), and I guess they said there was some funny stuff going on down there," Harrison told Team 4.

On Monday, Harrison told Parsons that county investigators visited him again to ask more questions after the first Team 4 report aired.

"They came to the house, some investigators or something, I don't know," Harrison said. "They want to know if I knew (the former court employee) or what happened with the tickets."

"This has nothing to do with Mr. Harrison," attorney Rick Cohen said. "I think it has to do with whoever was under investigation. I think the money in between may have disappeared, and that's what I'm starting to figure out that happened, and it's happened to many people."

Sources close to the investigation told Team 4 that detectives are looking into whether the court employee pocketed the difference in fine money between the original traffic convictions and the reduced charges without the defendants knowing anything about it.

The disposition that Gallo agreed to for Harrison on Monday -- tossing one ticket and reducing the other -- was the same that occurred in the unexplained chain of events at the district court level.