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City officials appear to defy Judge’s demand to refund speed trap money

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ST. LOUIS — From St. Charles County to St. Louis, women say they cannot get their money back from voided speeding tickets. This despite a Judge who demanded the end of a questionable speed trap.

One woman who did not want to be identified said, “Those of us who tried to do the right thing and be good citizens (are punished).”

Another woman said, “I`m out of 100 dollars now because i was trying to do the right thing Both women denied speeding.

Thousands of people got similar tickets in the mail. They involved two small towns who worked with a private security company called Public Safety First Partners. Security officers in unmarked cars targeted drivers on busy thoroughfares.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar was outraged when we showed him what the Fox Files found.

Belmar told us in March, “(If) somebody who poses as law enforcement is going to say that we`re merely here to take money out of people`s pockets for the sake of a municipality, that`s wrong.”

Uplands Park withdrew from the program after we asked officials about it.

Chairman BW Shelton said, “We decided to withdraw from the program and we requested the company to send letters to everyone that was involved, telling them that they were not obligated to pay any fines.”

Uplands Park also promised refunds.A St. Louis County Judge intervened after a citizen complained about a violation notice from Kinloch. He warned city officials from the bench, their speed enforcement program 'misleads the public.' The Judge also asked for proof the program is even legal. Kinloch officials agreed to back out of the program, putting it in writing to the court. The Judge wrote 'the court orders the city of Kinloch to cease and refrain in the future from using any traffic control system which was contracted out between the City of Kinloch and Public Safety First Partners.'

But citizens report they`re being told they have to pay the tickets that the Judge said they didn't. One woman said, “Actually I was just threatened. They told me either I can actually finish paying the payment or they can issue me a warrant.”

According to the official court transcript in the hearing over a citizen complaint, Judge Douglas Beach told Kinloch's City Attorney, “any tickets... that are outstanding should be cancelled...' He added, '(the city is) specifically instructed not to take money from anybody and all money must be returned.'

I emailed the transcript to City Manager Justine Blue and former Kinloch Judge turned City Attorney Christopher Bent who was in court that day. Bent responded ...'I believe the words you are relying on in your email is (sic) nothing more than dicta. They are not part of an enforceable court order.'

That means it may take another court hearing to clear this up. Those ticketed may have to ask the Judge to send Kinloch something in writing.