Saturday, July 30, 2005

Court clerk guilty
of fixing tickets

A 10-year sentence is possible
for illegally dismissing charges

A former court clerk faces 10 years in prison after being found guilty in Circuit Court yesterday on two counts of fixing tickets.

The charges stem from two incidents in 2002, when Alberta Souza worked at the Waianae District Courthouse.

Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya said Souza changed the venue of a traffic ticket from Ewa to Waianae on Dec. 16, 2002, without a judge's approval.

She then illegally dismissed the ticket on Dec. 20, 2002. The ticket, Goya said, had been issued to an acquaintance of Souza's, but he would not say whether it was a family member or a friend.

A jury could not reach a verdict on a third count of ticket fixing, in which prosecutors alleged that Souza reduced an acquaintance's driver's license suspension to three months from one year.

They also alleged she waived the fines.

Souza had been a court clerk in Waianae for more than 10 years, Goya said. She declined to comment yesterday, as did her attorney.

But after the verdict was announced, two members of Souza's family yelled at jurors as they were leaving the courtroom, calling their decision "wrong." One relative, who declined to give her name, told the jury members they "didn't know all the facts."

Souza's sentencing is set for Oct. 26 before Circuit Judge Dexter Del Rosario. Souza also faces a $10,000 fine.

Cases of ticket fixing come up rarely. "It is not a systemic kind of problem," Goya said.

Souza was caught, he added, after court officials in Ewa noticed that someone set to come in on a traffic ticket had not shown up. They looked up the citation and found it had been transferred and dismissed.

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