An Upper Darby woman filed a federal lawsuit last week against the township claiming her civil rights were violated when the township apparently stopped sending court summonses for parking tickets sometime in the spring of 2021, thereby allegedly violating the Constitution’s due process clause.
The suit filed by Mary Candido in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is a class action complaint, meaning hundreds or even thousands more plaintiffs could be added. Candido is represented by Philadelphia lawyer Reuben Honik, of Honik LLC.
“Without ever being provided notice (i.e., a summons) and a hearing to contest a parking ticket, individuals are denied their opportunity to appear in court and challenge a purported parking violation,” part of the complaint says. “Instead, they are left in limbo and remain liable for ever-compounding fines and live under the fear of prosecution.”
Issues around the township’s parking tickets first arose in January because of investigative reports by CBS3 reporter Joe Holden.
“According to numerous interviews, sources, documents and a review of judicial records, in the spring of 2021, parking tickets and violations issued by Upper Darby Township Parking Enforcement were suddenly no longer arriving at the local district magistrates for processing,” Holden reported in late January of this year.
“In a months-long investigation, CBS3 Investigations found in one district court, 62 parking violations were heard in 2020 and 73 in 2021, but in 2022 and 2023, there were zero.”
The lawsuit lands as the township, from a leadership perspective, is more or less adrift.
Just days before the CBS3 report, Upper Darby’s embattled chief administrative officer, Vince Rongione stepped down. There is no current evidence, however, that Rongione’s departure is in any way linked to the parking ticket scandal.
One day after Rongione stepped down, Mayor Barbarann Keffer was arrested on DUI charges. Keffer voluntarily sought rehabilitation for alcohol abuse issues, but later announced she would not run for re-election this year.
Both of those actions left a good portion of the day-to-day township administration to a deputy chief administrative officer, Alison Dobbins.
Then, shortly after the CBS story broke, the township council approved an audit into its parking enforcement. It’s not clear when the audit may conclude.
When reached for comment, Dobbins said, “We are unable to comment on pending litigation.”
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at email@example.com, or use his encrypted email at firstname.lastname@example.org. @shepherdreports