BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (CBS) — Four motorists are facing charges after they allegedly racked up more than $315,000 in unpaid tolls.
Bucks County has recently enforced stricter penalties spearheaded by Pennsylvania Turnpike officials due to habitual law evaders who have racked up millions of dollars in toll violations.
One tactic to aid this crackdown is penalizing the worst, habitual offenders with felony theft of service charges.
Drivers who have six or more unpaid toll violations or who owe at least $500 in outstanding tolls and administrative fees are at risk of suspended vehicle registrations.
Officials have identified the four charged with theft of services as Jarrett L. Stiff, 36, of Warminster; Kelly M. Robinson, 32, of Lansdale; Christina M. Heller, 52, of Hatboro; and Ayelet D. Farage, 47, of Elkins Park.
All four waived their right to a preliminary hearing Thursday afternoon. They are scheduled to be formally arraigned Sept. 14 in Bucks County Common Pleas Court.
Stiff is accused of owing $127,967.40, the sum of $37,572.40 in unpaid tolls and $90,395 in administrative fees. An affidavit reports that Stiff used turnpike interchanges 2,264 times without paying between April 2013 and Oct. 2017. He reportedly ignored 4,528 notices.
Robinson owes $66,553.43, about half in unpaid tolls and half in administrative fees, her affidavit says. It is reported that she evaded 840 separate tolls between Dec 2013 and Sept. 2017. She was sent 1,680 payment notices.
Heller allegedly owes $60,634.40, including $28,114.40 in unpaid tolls and $32,520 in fees. It is reported that she received 1,626 notices seeking payment of 813 unpaid tolls for over three years.
Farage’s debt amounts to $60,569.65 – including $27,829.65 in tolls and $32,730 in violation fees. Over the course of more than five years, she blew through tolls 822. Documents allege she received 1,644 notices.
According to officials, thefts of more than $2,000 are charged as felonies of the third degree. The punishment carries up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Reports say that investigators made repeated attempts to set up payment agreements with each defendant, but were unsuccessful. Criminal charges were their last resort.
Stiff, Robinson and Ayelet have also been charged with driving while their licenses were suspended or revoked.
Bucks County is home to two tolls that have the highest violation rates in the state – Neshaminy and Bensalem.