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Yikes! Port Authority Goes After Toll Jumpers

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CN) - The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is cracking down on toll jumpers, claiming in court that some companies and their drivers owe it hundreds of thousands of dollars in bridge tolls and fees.

In one case in Hudson County Court, the Port Authority claims that Cardella Trucking Co. and six people - five of them named Cardella - owe it more than $148,000.

The Port Authority claims that from January 2001 until December 2011, the company "improperly utilized exclusive E-Z Pass lanes on 5,953 occasions," leading to approximately 11,906 citations. The unpaid tolls and charges, including up to $50 in administrative fees for E-Z Pass tag misuse, come to more than $148,000, according to the complaint.

The tolls evasions took place on the George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel, the Bayonne Bridge, the Outerbridge Crossing and the Goethals Bridge, according to the complaint.

Toll evaders and E-Z Pass patrons who violate the terms of their agreements are responsible for the outstanding tolls plus an administrative fee, costs and attorney's fees for each improper use of E-Z Pass toll collection lanes," the complaint states.

The Port Authority claims that despite "highly visible signage," Cardella trucking used E-Z Pass lanes on several bridges and tunnels to duck tolls. It claims the company and their drivers engaged in "ongoing and continued conduct," repeatedly evading tolls, "with the knowledge and consent" of the company.

In a second case, in Morris County Court, the Port Authority claims that the Fusella Group has accumulated more than 12,000 citations and owes it more than $425,000. The Port Authority said in a statement that it has filed lawsuits against 20 of the worst toll evaders, each one against a company or person who owe more than $50,000 in tolls and fees.

The Port Authority said it plans to take legal action against a list of 37 companies and individuals on its "Wall of Shame" by the end of March.

The Authority seeks damages for breach of contract, fraud, negligence, trespass, unjust enrichment and conspiracy, and state RICO violations.

It claims the Cardella defendants "knowingly and intentionally engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity for the purpose of enriching themselves" in which they "knowingly, intentionally and recklessly committed theft of transportation services." The Authority is represented by David Kromm in both cases.

Editor's Note: After Courthouse News published its article on the complaint against Cardella Trucking, a Port Authority spokesman explained that it is "no longer pursuing" this litigation. "The issues with Cardella Trucking have been resolved," spokesman Steven Coleman said in an email. "They have been pulled off of our Wall of Shame."

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