News10NBC Investigates: Faulty Chicago red light ticket hits Hilton woman with $100 fine

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HILTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — One of our viewers in Hilton got a surprise in the mail. It was a $100 red light ticket from Chicago police. The problem is—our viewer has never been to Chicago.

These faulty red light, speeding and parking tickets are something News10NBC has been digging into and trying to correct for years.

It’s Feb. 10 on Ashland Avenue in Chicago.

A red light camera records and snaps a photo of an SUV going through a red light. The photo shows a yellow and blue New York license plate and the ticket arrived at the home of Robin Donahue in Hilton.

"So it’s a fine of $100 and it’s from Chicago, which I have never been to Chicago," Donahue said.

Whoever looked at the photo in Chicago thought the license plate started "FLG 7835." That’s the letter and number combination on the ticket.

And that was the plate Donahue’s daughter had for her first car in high school, but here’s the problem: Donahue turned that plate in five years ago and a DMV receipt says it was "destroyed."

"So now our question is—how did the plates that are in these photos from this red light camera that are supposedly destroyed on this vehicle in Chicago?" she asked.

What’s more likely to have happened is that Chicago misread the plate.

New York State DMV says FLG 7835 doesn’t exist. However, FLC 7835 is an active plate in New York.

Several years ago, a Chicago Tribune investigation uncovered 13,000 faulty red light tickets in Chicago. In 2017, I exposed several incorrect camera-operated red light and parking tickets mailed from Long Island to viewers in Rochester who had never been there.

When Chicago police ran the letter and numbers of Donahue’s supposedly destroyed New York license plate, Donahue’s name and address still came up.

Brean: "What are you concerned about?"

Donahue: "What happens if this vehicle gets in an accident and hurts somebody?"

Brean: "And right not you’re on the hook, at least according to Chicago Police, for a fine of $100."

Donahue: "I am. I am and who knows what else that plate and where else that plate could go?"

Chicago Police told me it’s a department of finance issue. I emailed the City of Chicago Department of Finance. I was on hold on the department phone number for 15 minutes on Friday.

I even tweeted the Chicago mayor. Zero response.

Donahue is going to appeal, but the $100 fine is due April 17.