MARYLAND

Craig Rice, Montgomery County Council president, pays $1,000+ in unpaid tickets

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ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - The newly-elected president of the Montgomery County Council already has an issue to deal with, and it has nothing to do with politics. Rather, Council President Craig Rice's issues stem from $1,265 in unpaid parking and traffic tickets from the past three years.

Photo: Montgomery County Council

Documents reviewed by ABC7 News indicate Rice, who was named council president on Dec. 3, has compiled a debt of $1,065 in Washington, D.C. The tab includes five tickets for infractions like speeding, illegal parking and outdated tags. The Annapolis Department of Transportation reports Rice owes the capital city $110 for two expired parking meter citations, while Montgomery County says the charismatic 41-year-old hasn't paid a $90 traffic ticket.

Montgomery County Ticket History:

According to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website, on Sept. 9, a Montgomery County officer stopped Rice's burgundy Infiniti G-37 sports coupe along I-270, near Falls Road in Rockville. Rice told ABC7, he was driving solo in an HOV lane during the morning rush hour, when the officer flashed his lights and sirens and pulled him over.

"We're always told to pass on the left so I thought it was okay to pass on the left. As a young man, I was also told not to argue with an officer, so I requested a trial to contest the ticket," Rice remarked following a Monday morning media conference.

Only problem, Rice was a no-show at his Nov. 7 trial, and according to an online court database, never paid the $90 traffic ticket - the latter of which he hotly contends.

"I paid that ticket in mid-November," Rice said. "I will admit I missed court though because I was at the 100,000 Homes Campaign. Those kinds of obligations take priority and oftentimes trump my ability to handle some of the things in my personal life."

In response to his absence and outstanding debt, the Montgomery County District Court asked the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration to suspend the high-ranking politician's driver's license. The MVA however says the state transportation agency has yet to take any action against Rice.

"These notices come to us in batches, and according to my records, we show nothing connected to this license plate number yet," Buel Young, a spokesman with the MVA said during a telephone interview with ABC7.

This isn't the first time Rice has run into trouble with ticket payments. According to Montgomery County District Court records, Rice, who earns $114,400 a year as council president, was tardy paying three Montgomery County speeding tickets in 2011 and 2012. In one case, the lifelong Montgomery County resident was seven days late, in another ten days, and in the third instance, 45 days.

Washington, D.C. & Annapolis Tickets:

While Rice was well aware of the most recent Montgomery County traffic ticket, he appeared dumbfounded when confronted with the seven outstanding citations in Annapolis and Washington, D.C.

"(This is) absolutely news to me," he said. "I've never seen these before."

Rice says the slew of tickets, which span from June 2011 to Oct. 2013, were never mailed to him. Following a few phone calls, he told ABC7, the car dealership he leased his vehicle from, received the citations, but never forwarded them onto him.

"That's just a lame excuse. I'm quite sure he saw those notices. D.C. is very good at letting you know about tickets," Gaithersburg resident Sondra Jackson suggested.

"Way too many politicians are happy to make laws for other people and not pay attention to them themselves," Silver Spring resident Adelaide Tenembaum remarked.

When asked if he felt like he was "above the law," Rice balked at the insinuation.

"I would never, ever say that (or) would I feel that way," Rice said. "Just as I've taken care of everything else that's come about, if this is indeed valid, I'll certainly take a look at it."

Fast Pay Makes Fast Friends:

By 4 p.m. Monday, the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles' online database showed Rice had paid all five outstanding tickets, valued at $1,065 combined. However, according to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search and Annapolis Department of Transportation website portals, the three citations in Annapolis and Montgomery County remained unpaid.

"A lot of people think they're above the law, but that's not right. Because we're all equal. So if you have fines, pay them," Jackson concluded.

UPDATE: 

According to the Maryland Judiciary Case Search & Annapolis Dept. of Transportation websites at around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, it is confirmed that Montgomery County Council President Craig Rice has paid all of his outstanding parking and traffic tickets -- eight in total.

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