South Carolina: Internal Emails Reveal Speed Trap Profit Motive

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
south carolina internal emails reveal speed trap profit motive

An ongoing federal lawsuit against the speed trap town of Ridgeland, South Carolina uncovered internal emails last month that shed light on the motivation behind the state’s only photo enforcement program. Since July 2010, Ridgeland has allowed the private firm iTraffic to operate a mobile speed camera van on Interstate 95, despite a state law outlawing the practice and a pair of attorney general opinions warning that the photo ticketing was not legal ( view opinions).

The lawsuit filed by attorney Pete Strom in December has been expanded to reflect information recently gained from the discovery process. iTraffic has an unusually close relationship with the town and its mayor, Gary W. Hodges. For each ticket issued, iTraffic receives 50 percent of the profit from the $100 to $300 tickets and takes a 66 percent cut on any overdue collections.

Although Hodges points out in his public comments that “police officers” man the automated ticketing vehicle, those individuals are paid by and under the control of iTraffic. In an October 15, 2010 email, iTraffic CEO William Danzell issued orders to Officers David Swinehamer and R. Lowther.

“Starting today please fill out and sign a time card at the RV when you arrive and when you depart,” Danzell wrote. “Your iTraffic 40 work week is determined by the hours deployed. The time cards will be delivered to Jason Cox by you for each day of work. Thanks. Bill.”

In an October 18, 2010 email to Ridgeland town administrator Jason Taylor, Danzell made it clear his primary motivation in deciding when and where to place the cameras was generating the maximum possible number of citations.

“Just a follow-up to our lunch on Friday,” Danzell wrote. “We should be consistently be delivering 120 to 130 tickets to Sandy on a daily basis. The potential is 200 but further improvements are required in the backoffice to achieve this number. We are working on this… but, we are not there yet. I’ll keep you posted. Bill.”

Another iTraffic employee, Jason Cox, ordered a change in the police officers shift in a January 17, 2011 email.

“If possible, I think we should move to 24 hour Friday-Sunday deployments,” Cox wrote. “The numbers show (last week’s data) that we will get a 50 percent increase if we move the weekday deployment to the weekend.”

Strom’s lawsuit argues that the “I-95 Speed Trap Enterprise” violates racketeering statutes by engaging in mail fraud to obtain money from motorists under false pretenses. The suit argues that each mailed citation makes fraudulent claims regarding the legality of the tickets and the consequences of failing to pay. South Carolina law does not recognize the service of citations by mail.

iTraffic emails (Ridgeland, South Carolina, 4/19/2011)


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4 of 13 comments
  • GS650G GS650G on Apr 20, 2011

    So if this is Not Permitted then the police should pull up to the van and ask them to cease and desist.

    • Advance_92 Advance_92 on Apr 20, 2011

      The police are the ones being paid to man the thing, off duty. You'd need country or state police to go after the local police.

  • Mr Carpenter Mr Carpenter on Apr 20, 2011

    Sending illegal tickets via the US Mail service? That's defrauding people via the US Mail, a FEDERAL MAIL FRAUD OFFENSE, is it not? Ridgeland town administrator Jason Taylor, anyone else in the city who has touched this and all employees of this company should be up on Federal Mail law offenses. Then if found guilty, they should spend time in FEDERAL PENITENTIARY for their crimes. That'd teach them. It might even stop some of the other criminals disguised as "public servants" from doing such things in future.

    • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Apr 20, 2011

      You mean a "pound you in the a$$ federal pen?" I loved Office Space. All automated ticketing schemes should be made illegal. End of discussion.

  • Sgeffe There's someone around where I live who has a recent WRX-STi, but the few times I've been behind this guy, he's always driving right at the underposted arbitrary numbers that some politician pulled out of their backside and slapped on a sign! With no gendarmes or schoolkids present! Haven't been behind this driver on the freeway, but my guess is that he does the left lane police thing with the best of 'em!What's the point of buying such a vehicle if you're never going to exceed a speed limit? (And I've pondered that whilst in line in the left lane at 63mph behind a couple of Accord V6s, as well as an AMG E-Klasse!)
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  • Mebgardner Wishing for the day of open source software in EVs, including the OS. Lets have some transparency in the algorithms and controls. No Fair data hoovering my phone when connected.I'm also wondering at the level of CANBus components in this vehicle.
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