NEWS RELEASE
Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.


January 24, 2002 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357

FORMER TOLL COLLECTOR FOUND GUILTY OF STEALING TOLL MONEY

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Lewis Bell,41, of Baltimore, was sentenced as a result of being found guilty of one count of felony theft. Bell, a former toll collector assigned to the William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bay Bridge since 1987, entered a plea, recognizing that the Stateís evidence proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he stole toll receipts in the amount of $536.00 of Maryland Transportation Authority funds from July through December, 2000.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Nancy Davis-Loomis placed Bell on unsupervised probation for two yearsí time commencing immediately. Bell was ordered to pay $536.00 as a fine. If Bell fails to pay restitution or violates the terms of his probation, the court has reserved the right to impose a sentence of up to the statutory maximum, 15 years incarceration.

"It was Mr. Bellís job to collect toll funds for the State not for himself," Attorney General Curran said. "I applaud the Transportation Authority for their vigilance in monitoring its employees and for safeguarding state funds."

This case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General by the Maryland Transportation Authority, who conducted an extensive investigation, including taped surveillance of Bell for a period of six months, July-December, 2000. The Maryland Transportation Authority investigation, and this prosecution have resulted in Mr. Bellís termination from his position as a toll collector and State employee.

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