DART's most wanted cost taxpayers millions

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on March 15, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 15 at 10:19 PM

DALLAS — Some of the most wanted in Dallas County are not accused of violent crimes. Their problems are about money and in some cases, not paying their way on the city's public transportation system.

"I think they ought to have to pay," said Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell. "If everybody getting on the trains has to pay, they ought to have to pay!"

Cantrell has listed online all the people who owe the county money. For some, it is money owed because they did not pay to register their vehicle or skipped DART fares. He said more than 250,000 people owe Dallas County more than $110 million, which is twice the county's projected deficit.

"Bottom line is, they need to take care of their business," Cantrell said. "We don't care what they do. They can go sit it out in jail. They can serve it out in community service; just get off our Dallas County wanted site."

Several offenders owe thousands of dollars for not paying the fare on DART trains and buses.

DART officials said repeat offenders are often ticketed because police officers in the field are not able to check a suspect's history for outstanding warrants. DART has its own police department that monitors hundreds of miles of rail and bus lines. Its officers will not know if a suspect is wanted for other crimes unless they decide to arrest the individual.

Repeated offenders are then handed off to the county to arrest.

Police have ticketed Alvin Grismore, 33, nearly 50 times for fare evasion. He owes the county more than $14,000.

Emmanuel Jackson, 25, faces the same problem. Police said they have caught him 50 times skipping the fares. He owes nearly $15,000.

"If they've been caught with that much, imagine how much they got away with it?" Cantrell asked, conceding that many do indeed ride without paying.

Although the Web site lists the suspects' photos and addresses, officers rarely seek them out. DART has relied on citizens to turn them in.

"Having the manpower to go out there and do that, we just don't have it," Cantrell said. "That's why we're trying to turn this site into a site that has every single warrant we have in Dallas County and then let the public tells us where these individuals are."

Currently the Web site only lists people wanted for misdemeanors. Cantrell hopes to add felony offenders within the next year.

As News 8 learned, police do pick up some of the accused violators on the list.

On Tuesday, when we visited the home of Derrick Egland, 32, we met his uncle instead.

"As far as I know, (Derrick's) in jail," he said.

Officers arrested Egland on Saturday for probation violation. He is accused of failing to pay DART fares at least 37 times over seven years.

Egland remains in jail without bond.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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