Police: Couple racks up almost $40,000 in toll fees and fees

February 14, 2014
In this undated photo, an EZ-Pass lane is shown on the Mon Valley Expressway. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A West Brownsville couple accused of going through the EZ-Pass lanes on the Mon Valley Expressway almost 1,000 times without paying and racking up almost $40,000 in tolls and administrative fees will stand trial on theft of services and conspiracy charges.

State police filed the charges against Amber Nicole Wiley, 28, and Kenny Alan Wiley, 36, both of 514 Fifth Boulevard, late last year.

In October, state police Cpl. Charles Seilhamer was asked by a representative of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to investigate a driver who allegedly went through the EZ-Pass lanes on the expressway more than 900 times starting in January 2012. The commission had digital images of the violations from the cameras on the EZ-Pass lanes.

Four different vehicles, all registered to Amber Wiley in Ohio, reportedly showed up on the EZ-Pass images. Police said the Wileys, who did not have an EZ-Pass transponder, never transferred the license plates when the vehicles were purchased, so the notices of amounts owed to the Turnpike Commission were initially going back to the previous vehicle owners, who alerted the commission.

The cameras also captured images of the drivers, which police said matched the photos of the Wileys on their respective Ohio driver’s licenses.

Police obtained a warrant for turnpike commission records pertaining to the violations involving the four vehicles registered to Amber Wiley. The records showed that between Jan. 4, 2012, and Oct. 23, 2013, the Wileys committed 966 violations. The loss to the commission in tolls and administrative fees is $39,505.20, police said. There is no record of the Wileys having an EZ-Pass account.

The two moved to West Brownsville in January 2012. Police said they have not obtained Pennsylvania driver’s licenses or had their vehicles transferred to Pennsylvania.

The commission eventually mailed violation notices to Amber Wiley at her last known address but never received compensation.

“When we mailed them the violations, it came back as undeliverable,” said Bill Capone, spokesman for the Turnpike Commission. “It was turned over to a collection agency, who tracked them down.”

Capone said a first notice sent by the commission includes the cost of the toll owed plus a $25 administrative fee. The second notice has the toll plus a $40 fee, along with a warning that if it isn’t paid, it will be sent to a collection agency.

Laura Quick, customer service manager for the commission, said the Wileys were going through the EZ-Pass lanes on the expressway four or five times a day. Capone said the tolls owed were about $1,500, with the balance being administrative fees.

“It is more than just recovering the tolls, but the cost of mailing the notices and the cost to run them down,” Capone said. “We will try to work with them and recover what we think the Turnpike Commission is owed.”

Prior to the start of court proceedings Monday before District Judge Joshua Kanalis, the Wileys told commission representatives they did it because they did not have any money to pay the tolls. They asked commission representative to work with them because they don’t have $40,000. Kanalis told the couple to make themselves available for talks with the commission.

The two remain free on $5,000 unsecured bonds.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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