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08-26-07, 11:03 AM #1
Arlington, Tx: Another court employee arrested in ticket-fixing scam
By Mitch Mitchell
Star-Telegram staff writer
ARLINGTON -- Police have arrested a second Arlington municipal court employee in an investigation into missing traffic and other municipal citations, but the employee said the charge is overblown and a simple mistake on her part.
Stacie Marciel, 43, faces a charge of misuse of official information, a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000, police said. She was arrested at about 7:45 p.m. Friday at her home in the 1600 block of Antelope Run in south Arlington, said Christy Gilfour, Arlington police spokeswoman. Marciel was released on a $10,000 bail, police said.
Marciel, a data entry clerk, is accused of not entering three citations into court records so that the recipients would not have to pay fines, police said. The three tickets, for relatives or friends, date from November to July and were for no driver's license and expired inspection, failure to yield right of way, and possession of fireworks, Gilfour said. Marciel has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.
Marciel said Saturday that the court has been inadequately staffed for years and that the work is backlogged. The city moved some of the clerks to a different office about four months ago, and it has taken some time to get the new office organized, she said.
The office has been under scrutiny since a 2005 ticket-fixing investigation, and she and the other city employees are working under extreme pressure, Marciel said. She said she has not had an opportunity to enter the ticket information in question into the court's record-keeping system.
"They are still processing warrants out of there from 2003," she said. "I just haven't gotten to it. I am not what I am being portrayed to be."
On Wednesday, police arrested Nereida Hermosillo, 33, who also faces a charge of misuse of official information.
Police said Hermosillo began calling a Grand Prairie woman last week, demanding $400 to get rid of two tickets that the woman's son received Aug. 8. The two citations, one for no driver's license and one for speeding, would have added up to fines of $392, according to police.
Gilfour said the tickets issued to the woman's son did not show up in court records. Hermosillo has worked for the Arlington Municipal Court about six years, according to police.
"It's unfortunate she did this. It gives the public the wrong perception that we're all over here doing this," Court Administrator David Preciado said of Hermosillo's arrest. "I have a lot of good employees over here. I will continue to push forward to find people not doing their job and file charges against anyone doing anything improperly."
Hermosillo's arrest comes two years after the indictment of municipal court clerk Crystal Leonguerrero on 20 counts of misuse of official information and a charge of theft.
Arlington police say she used her position to pocket customers' fine money.
Unsure of how many tickets were affected, Arlington police did not arrest people with Class C misdemeanor warrants issued by the city for nearly five months, until the investigation concluded.
Arlington police say anyone wanting to report suspicious activity involving Arlington citations should call the tip line at 817-459-5636.
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