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Bag Of Pennies

Ron Seys of rural Clinton County tried to use $59.40 worth of pennies in a bag to pay a fine from a ticket the state says he received in 1996. Clerks at the Scott County Courthouse refused to accept the pennies as payment. (Brian Wellner/QUAD-CITY TIMES)

Ron Seys took out his frustration over having to pay a 16-year-old traffic ticket on a clerk at the Scott County Courthouse this week.

He carried a sack with $59.40 in pennies into the courthouse in Davenport, showed the clerk the old ticket and then dumped the load on her counter.

“Did I do this on purpose? Yes, I did, to make a point,” Seys said afterward.

The rural Clinton County man said he went to a bank Wednesday morning to get the pennies and emptied each roll into his sack. 

About a month ago, Seys received a letter from the Iowa Department of Transportation demanding that he pay an outstanding 1996 ticket for improper registration.

The state recently entered into a contract with the Kansas City, Mo., law firm of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson LLP to collect court fines and fees that have been unpaid for more than a year. State law also requires county treasurers to refuse to renew a vehicle registration when the vehicle owner owes unpaid fines and court fees.

State Court Administrator David Boyd said in September that the state is boosting collection efforts to recoup past-due obligations in the face of shrinking revenues.

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Seys doesn’t remember getting the ticket and said he’s been able to renew his driver’s license in the years since, until recently.

Seys also said he didn’t realize he couldn’t use pennies to pay off the ticket, although signs at the clerk’s office say no more than $3 in pennies can be used for payment.

Two Scott County sheriff’s deputies showed up in the office and told Seys he was harassing the clerk. They asked him to pick up the pennies and put them back into the bag. Many of the pennies had fallen onto the floor.

He then paid the ticket in other cash, slung the sack of pennies over his shoulder and left the courthouse.

Outside, he said he didn’t do anything wrong.

“Since when is it wrong to use legal tender?” he said.

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