POSTED: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 1:28pm
UPDATED: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 5:01pm
SORRENTO, LA (NBC33) — UPDATE: A call through to Ascension District Attorney has clarified that earlier remarks made about the reimbursement of tickets issued before September 10 by Sorrento Police Officer James Bell were faulty. The remarks received by The Creole were from the court system and incorrect.
“It’s a simple case of someone’s already said they’re guilty if they’ve paid it,” said Babin. “If they’ve basically said they’re guilty, I’m not giving them their money back. However, any tickets yet to be paid will not have to be, as I’m not going to prosecute a case if I’ve got unreliable information. If someone has a Bell ticket that is still pending and has not yet been paid, they can contact our office and let us verify it, or it will be taken care of in court by dismissal.”
ORIGINAL: Hundreds of people in Sorrento are learning that they will have money returned to them or will not have to pay for speeding tickets.
Sorrento Police Officer James Bell’s driving practices created quite a bit of controversy recently when it came to light that he operated his police vehicle at speeds in excess of 75 mph on 737 occasions in the 64 day period between July 1 and September 3, 2013. When asked to comment Police Chief Earl Theriot explained that Officer Bell issued over 300 traffic citations in that same period, suggesting the Bell was engaged in a number of high speed pursuits which would account for some of those instances of Bell’s speeding.
On Tuesday, all of Officer Bell’s traffic citations were dismissed due to his failure to adhere to evidentiary policies with regard to operation of his police radar.
DA Babin also authorized the dismissal of every traffic citation issued by Officer Bell prior to September 10, whether the matter was before the Court on October 15 or not. Any cited motorist who has not paid the traffic fine and has a pending court date will have the case dismissed so long as Officer Bell issued the citation prior to September 10. Such a motorist must still appear before the Court on the date indicated by the citation.
As for those cited motorists who have already paid the fine, thereby avoiding the necessity of a court appearance, they have a remedy, too. If such an individual appears before the court on the date indicated on the citation, he/she may enter a plea of not guilty and be reimbursed the amount of the fine if it is verified that payment was made. In cases where payment cannot be verified the matter will be held over until the trial date and all efforts will be made to verify payment.
In order to expedite these matters it has been suggested that affected motorists contact the District Attorney’s office and provide all relevant information.