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Hundreds turn out in Chicago suburb's municipal court to pay tickets they didn't know they had

Hundreds wait for hours to pay for tickets they say they shouldn't have received
Hundreds wait for hours to pay for tickets they say they shouldn't have received 02:32

DOLTON, Ill. (CBS) -- There was outrage Thursday night in south suburban Dolton – as hundreds of people lined up to pay tickets they say they never should even have gotten.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, they were told to show up in court on Thursday – or else the fines would double.

Usually, the trains are the loudest noise in Dolton. But on Thursday, the most noise came from the hundreds in those long lines outside the municipal court. One man said he was in line for two hours.

They all got slapped with various citations all of a sudden by the city.

"At first, I thought it was $50 – and then I had to put my glasses on," said Elizabeth Watson.

Watson quickly saw an extra zero for a total sum of $500 – if she did stand in the line to appear in court.

"After the 21st, I'll be owing $1,000," she said.

That is why hundreds packed the municipal court – frustrated and confused.

"I'm a senior citizen, you know, on a fixed income," said Watson. "It's ridiculous."

"These outrageous amounts are insane," said Lamont, who was also waiting in line.

The vast majority of people slapped with the $500 ticket said they did not park illegally.

Hagerman's $500 ticket came for parking in a fire lane in a strip mall at 154th Street and Cottage Grove Avenue – where he had just stopped to run into Italian Fiesta Pizzeria.

"And so I walk in, get my pizza – it's already prepared. Thirty seconds in and out – run in and out," said Eric Hagerman. "Five days later - a ticket in mail."

But he never received a ticket that day. Instead, he says, police officers who we saw parked in the private lot just snapped a picture as proof of parking.

"I got it three days later, saying, 'We have a picture of your car in fire lane,'" Hagerman said.

We heard the same story repeatedly.

"I pulled up right to the grocery store, and she got out, and then I moved - and then I got a ticket like two weeks later - $500 ticket," said Lamont.

Keep in mind that these tickets were not issued on city property.

Dolton Mayor Tiffany Henyard did not respond when CBS 2 asked for an explanation.

"This administration has cost us $5 million deficit, and now I believe that the mayor is trying to make up that deficit on the backs of the residents by charging all these excessive fines," said Dolton Trustee House.

House says the tickets weren't just for vehicles – but also for work permits.

"I've heard of residents that have gotten fines for not getting a permit to install carpet," he said.

People waited well into the night to have their cases heard.

"There's something stranger going on," said Watson's daughter.

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