Fake parking tickets issued in Madison earlier this year brought criminal charges Wednesday against the owner of a DeForest security firm.
Brendan M. Eichsteadt, 27, was charged with three counts of simulating legal process and three counts of attempted misdemeanor theft for parking tickets allegedly issued in May by his firm, Metropolitan Private Police.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court, Eichsteadt admitted to a DeForest police detective that he issued 100 to 150 of the citations and received money from about half of the $25 and $50 tickets.
No state or municipal laws in Wisconsin allow private security companies to issue parking tickets, the complaint states.
If someone refused to pay the citation, Eichsteadt told DeForest Police Sgt. James Pertzborn, he would just drop the citation.
"Play on their ignorance," Eichsteadt added, according to the complaint.
Eichsteadt then told Pertzborn that he probably should not say it, but "the fact of the matter is most of the people paying them are from the Allied Drive area," the complaint states. The neighborhood has a high concentration of Madison's poorest people and racial and ethnic minorities.
Simulating legal process carries a maximum penalty of 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, while the theft charges each carry maximum penalties of 4 1/2 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
The complaint states: Police in DeForest were contacted in May by a woman who had received a $25 ticket in the parking lot of her apartment building on Atticus Way, issued by Metropolitan Private Police, with an address in DeForest. She wondered why DeForest police would be issuing citations in the city of Madison.
Another woman who received a $50 citation at a neighboring building on Atticus Way said she called Metropolitan and spoke to Eichsteadt, who told her he would make an exception for her and not require her to pay the citation.
Others reported to DeForest police that they received parking tickets at Harbor Freight, 4617 Verona Road, at the Burlington Coat Factory on Odana Road, and at apartment building parking lots on Swanton Road and High Point Oaks Lane.
Pertzborn found that Metropolitan was described on its Web site as a subsidiary of Metropolitan Protective Services. He also learned from the state Department of Regulation and Licensing that it is not a state-licensed security firm and that neither company has the legal authority to issue parking tickets.