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Driver gets false 'revenge' ticket for telling-off parking officer

4:06 PM, Nov 4, 2010   |    comments
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The parking officers then mailed the $150 handicapped parking ticket to the driver late, so by the time he received it, the fine had doubled.

"This was a $300 ticket," Joshua Miscles of Denver said. "People get criticized every day and it doesn't give them the right to just write a ticket and a fake ticket to boot."

Miscles admits he got angry with the enforcement agent on Aug. 19, 2009. He had run into the bank to cash a check and when he came out, Officer Eric Madril had issued him a ticket for not having a front license plate. Miscles had a license plate, but it was in his window because there were no holes on his bumper to place it on the front of the car.

"I told him that was a bull crap ticket if he's seen the license plate in my window and that there's no where else to put it," Miscles said.

Miscles says he called Madril a "meter maid" and told him to "get a real job."

"That's when he got upset and got on the phone," Miscles said. "He was telling me, 'Come on! Get out of your truck and let's go.'"

Instead of fighting him, Miscles says he drove off and eventually forgot all about it. Several days later, he received a second parking ticket in the mail claiming he had parked in a handicapped parking spot at 1614 18th Street just nine minutes after he had been ticketed for having not having a front license plate at 1403 17th Street in Denver.

"I wouldn't park in a handicapped space because I'm not handicapped," Miscles said.

The second ticket was written by Officer John Culhane. While Miscles paid the ticket for no license plate, he decided to fight the handicapped parking ticket and went before a Denver parking magistrate.

The officers got caught when the judge noticed that it would have been physically impossible for Culhane to have spotted and ticketed Miscles in a handicapped parking spot.

Ticket reports obtained by 9Wants to Know show Culhane issued a parking citation at 3281 S. Oneida Way in Denver. Nine minutes later, Culhane issued the handicapped parking ticket to Miscles at a location 12 miles away, on 18th Street. Then, records show Culhane wrote a third ticket six minutes after that near the first location, at 2978 S. Newport Street.

"It's not ethical to write a citation falsely," Ann Williams, spokesperson for the Denver Department of Public Works, said. "The behavior that this agent displayed is not appropriate, it's not acceptable and it's not our norm."

After conducting an investigation, the Department of Public Works suspended Culhane for two days. It did not discipline Madril.

Williams says it appears the officers were seeking revenge on Miscles.

"That's absolutely wrong and that's not how our agents should be acting out in the field. Ever," she said.

Williams says it's irrelevant the way citizens behave because parking enforcement agents are trained how to deal with the public in a class called "Verbal Judo."

"In our training, we're taught to educate, not dominate," trainer Darnell Brooks said. "We need to understand that citizens are going to be upset when they're getting a ticket, who wouldn't be? You just let those things roll off you and don't take it personal."

Brooks says a driver recently drove over an agent's foot, breaking it.  Other drivers have spit on officers, assaulted them and verbally abused them.

"It can get pretty ugly," Brooks said. "If you can go a week without being verbally assaulted, you're doing pretty good."

Drivers have been charged with assault for hitting and spitting on parking officers, but Brooks could not say how often it has happened.

Parking officers write about 10,000 tickets each a year in Denver, according to records obtained by 9Wants to Know.

Culhane and Madril attended right-of-way enforcement training together three years ago and have been friends ever since.

Culhane refused to comment about the story when questioned by Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman. However, in a discipline report, Culhane told investigators he "had no recollection of writing the disputed ticket."

Madril told Sherman he didn't have time to talk about the ticket.

Miscles says the ordeal has been such a hassle, he will never yell at a parking officer again.

"I'll never do that again because it cost me two days of work," Miscles said.

If you have any news tips, please e-mail Investigative Reporter Deborah Sherman at Deborah.Sherman@9NEWS.com.

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