Former Ohio trooper who admitted to leniency on truckers won't get crime record expunged

| Friday, June 07, 2002

An Ohio judge has denied a plea to seal the criminal record of an ex-trooper who claimed he "fudged" stats because of ticket quotas on truckers. Timothy Houston was fired from the Ohio Highway Patrol in 1998 after admitting he falsified daily work logs.

Houston told police investigators he omitted speeding tickets to truckers but didn't void them out. He accounted for the omitted tickets on a tracking sheet, which gave the appearance he was trying to pad his commercial activity numbers. This eventually led to criminal charges.

According to court documents, Houston said he was never directed by a supervisor to issue more citations to truckers, but was questioned about small ticket totals. Houston's attorney told news reporters the former trooper did not want to boost his career at the expense of a trucker who could lose his job because of traffic tickets.

Houston said he discovered a trucker could lose his commercial driving privileges for extended periods if receiving multiple tickets within a certain time frame. "Why should I take (a trucker's) livelihood for a speeding ticket?" he said in a May 1999 Land Line article. "Why would I ruin these guys' lives with a third moving violation?"

He pleaded guilty in 1998 to eight counts of misdemeanor falsification, was given two years suspended sentence, ordered to serve 90 days under house arrest and was fired.

He qualified for expungement - which erases police and court records - because he was a first-time offender and three years had passed since his conviction.

In 1999, Houston said his willingness to let a trucker go, rather than write a citation did not translate well with the goals of the highway patrol. "Yes, I know I violated departmental policy and procedure," he said. "The only thing I did was give somebody a break and then tore up the ticket." Houston's attorney also asserted that his case led the patrol to end enforcement quotas.

The patrol has denied charges it unfairly targeted truckers and had assigned its troopers ticket quotas.

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