Celebrity justice

This year proved that all those traffic laws governing the rest of us don’t apply to the rich and famous

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David Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news for his Roads Report column since 2000. The stories are all true.

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The trappings of fame
Anyone who’s been through a grocery store checkout lane in the past two months has seen the headlines about movie star Reese Witherspoon being hit by a car while jogging through a crosswalk. Fortunately the “Legally Blonde” star suffered only minor injuries and declined to even press charges against the elderly driver.
However that was just one incident in what has been a tough year for celebs on the road.


Gisele or Gazelle?
In September, supermodel Gisele Bundchen was pulled over in Cape Cod, Mass., for driving 70 mph in a 55-mph zone. Though instead of the $200 ticket that the rest of us would have received, Bundchen got off with a warning.
A state police spokesman defended the decision, telling the Boston Globe that the former Victoria’s Secret model, who also is the wife of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, was only driving “slightly over the speed limit.”


Kate Plus 88
Reality TV mom Kate Gosselin wasn’t so fortunate when she was stopped in August for driving 88 mph in a 65-mph zone. The star of TLC’s “Kate Plus 8” told officers that she was just in a hurry to get home to her kids.
Police saw right through this story and issued her a $174 ticket anyway. After all, everyone knows that a single parent of twins and sextuplets is never in a hurry to get home.


Bronx bust
Celebrities in New York City don’t have to bother trying to talk their way out of tickets. They just have the police throw them away.
This past spring, a ticket-fixing racket was uncovered in the Bronx that just may be the largest in New York City history. It had become so prevalent that each Bronx precinct had officers assigned as “fixers” to handle requests to make traffic and parking tickets “go away” for friends and families of police officers.
Among those friends was New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, who was caught speeding on the West Side Highway in 2009 only to have his ticket killed by a sergeant.
Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z was pulled over on the same highway last year, but he got off after a policeman managed to lose his paperwork.
Before his death, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner also had numerous tickets taken care of for family, friends and co-workers.
Sources say the practice became so rampant, representatives for celebrities and politicians would sometimes call police headquarters directly to get their clients off the hook.
Up to 40 officers could be indicted with another 100 facing disciplinary charges.


Above the Law
Believe it or not, those stories pale in comparison with the mess that action film star Steven Seagal got himself into this spring.
During the filming of an episode of his A&E reality series, “Steven Seagal: Lawman,” the martial artist and “Under Siege” star drove a SWAT tank into a residential Arizona neighborhood to serve a search warrant on cockfighting suspect Jesus Llovera.
Though Llovera had no record of owning weapons, the sheriff’s department said they had reason to believe that he was armed and wanted to be prepared for a gun battle. Over chickens.
So with Seagal leading the way inside the tank, the police team leveled Llovera’s gate and drove right into his house through a wall.
Llovera was arrested after more than 100 chickens and gamecocks were found on the property, but he quickly countered with a $25,000 lawsuit against the sheriff’s office for the humiliation and emotional distress of having his home destroyed by Seagal.

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