Investigation: Action News viewers get help with mistaken PPA fines

ByChad Pradelli and Cheryl Mettendorf WPVI logo
Friday, July 16, 2021
Investigation: Action News viewers get help with mistaken PPA fines
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"The PPA created this mess that has been going on with me for six years," said Shirley Gray, who turned to Action News for help.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Violations from the Philadelphia Parking Authority can be costly and burdensome.

Two Action News viewers say the PPA mistakenly issued exorbitant fines, and they couldn't get them fixed.

Shawn Allen's issue began after she became paralyzed. It was a fight over red light tickets and whether he should be paying fines.

The red light ticket notices made the PPA's case. A camera captured a motorcycle with Allen's license plate blowing the light at JFK Boulevard and North Broad Street on August 14, 2020.

"A couple weeks later, another fine came in the mail," said Allen.

This time the red light camera picked up the plate at Aramingo and Castor avenues on September 4. And later that night, Allen received two more violations at Broad and Vine streets.

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"A couple weeks later, another fine came in the mail. And a couple weeks later, another one," he said.

Allen said the fines and fees were adding up quickly, totaling more than a $1,000.

But here is the problem -- Allen can't drive a motorcycle.

"I started the process of calling (and) telling them it couldn't be me. I had a motorcycle accident; I'm a tetraplegic," recalled Allen.

Allen canceled his license plate on the bike, which he believed was totaled.

Still, he says the PPA told him he'd have to fight the fines.

"It's a lot for me to get out of the house; (it's) about an hour process just to get out," he said.

Allen called the Action News Investigative team. After our call, the PPA issued a mea culpa. They contacted the adjudication authority on Allen's behalf and canceled the fines.

Shirley Gray has also been dodging the PPA after receiving a $7,000 impound ticket she insists isn't hers.

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"PPA created this mess that has been going on with me for six years," said Gray. "I am taking extreme measures here. My car has to stay in the back of my house every day."

The feud started in 2016 when Gray says she figured out the PPA made a clerical error -- issuing fines and running penalties on another vehicle impounded.

"The license plate on that car is one letter different from mine," said Gray.

Instead of a "V," like on Gray's license plate, she learned the impounded car plate had a "Z."

She thought the matter was cleared until a red light camera picked her up speeding late last year.

"I got a ticket on the Boulevard and the lady said, 'You got a $7,000 ticket.' And I said, 'That ticket is not mine, how is that still on there?'" recalled Gray.

Fed up, she also turned to Action News.

"I can't say what I really want to say to the PPA because we are on camera, but this has been going on since 2016. It is now 2021," she said.

The parking authority told Action News, the issue was a misapplication of a tag number that has since been corrected. They didn't say why the ticket wasn't erased during the initial investigation.

But since our call, the agency erased the fine attached to Gray's van.

The PPA has a difficult job, and mistakes happen. Viewers say they just expect a reasonable and quick fix when it's clear there's been a mistake.

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