Woman faces charges after racking up almost $92,000 in unpaid turnpike tolls, fees

A Pennsylvania woman is facing criminal charges for not paying to drive on the state’s turnpike.

Lori Yearick isn't in trouble with the law for skipping out on one, two or even three toll payments. The criminal complaint filed recently says that Yearick didn't pay for more than 1,600 trips between the Harrisburg East and the Mechanicsburg interchanges, Lancaster Online reported. The trip is only 11 miles and costs $1.74 each way for users of E-ZPass, an automatic payment system. Yearick now owes the state nearly $92,000 in unpaid tolls and fees that accumulated for not paying.

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Yearick will face a judge next week on a felony charge of theft of services, Lancaster Online reported.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Yearick's unpaid tolls total for nearly $26,000 of the $92,000 balance. The rest of what the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission says she owes, about $66,000, comes from the fees associated with nonpayment.

Her lawyer told the Wall Street Journal that he is reviewing the evidence in his client's case but told the paper, "Certainly if they can prove she in fact did this, we want to make sure the turnpike is made whole. We also have to make sure her ability to repay is going to be taken into consideration."

Yearick is not the only one who is accused of not paying the fee to drive on the limited-access highway. The Wall Street Journal reported that Pennsylvania’s turnpike commission has filed 14 private criminal complaints. One person has had a payment plan approved, other cases are pending. And taking drivers to court over non-payment of tolls is apparently working for the state.

The possibility of being charged with a crime has helped start payment plans, or full payments, that are expected to bring in $120,000, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"When people find out we're actually going after people criminally, it's going to make a huge impact," Ray Morrow, the turnpike commission's chief of compliance, told the Wall Street Journal.

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