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I-Team: Toll Collectors Accused Of Pocketing Thousands From Mass. Pike Drivers

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV
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WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – When you are fighting your way through rush-hour traffic, few pay attention to the change at the tollbooth. “Nobody really cares how much money they are getting back, they just want to get through and get into town,” one driver told us at the Framingham rest stop on the Mass. Pike.

That’s exactly what happened to Bill McGeckerin of Hull. “I gave him a five dollar bill for a $.70 toll and he gave me $.30 back instead of the $4.30,” he said. McGeckerin believes the toll collector deliberately shortchanged him.

This is not an isolated incident. The I-Team obtained hundreds of complaints filed with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation involving toll collectors accused of having sticky fingers. 103 motorists took the time to fill out complaints in 2010. 107 drivers requested refunds in 2011 and 70 complaints were filed last year. While some may be the result of an honest error, many drivers insist they were ripped off intentionally. One driver wrote, “…this may be the tip of a larger problem.” Another driver called it, “…a neat little fast footwork to con harried drivers.”

This has become a real problem in recent years. The I-Team has learned the Massachusetts Department of Transportation launched a surveillance program to keep an eye on certain toll collectors. Since 2010, 14 toll collectors have been suspended and eight have been fired.

MassDOT administrator Frank DePaola told us the vast majority of toll collectors are honest, hard-working people. He also said of the millions of transactions every year, this is a very small percentage of mishandled tolls. Still he felt his agency had to crack down. “We don’t find it acceptable and when we have evidence of it happening, we will continue to take disciplinary action,” he said.

Over the past three years, the state has refunded more than $3,200 dollars to motorists.

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