CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Roberta Miller says she's never been farther north in Illinois than Springfield, yet she received Chicago parking ticket in the summer of 2009.
She made a few calls, sent a letter, and thought it was gone until earlier this year, when the Windy City came to collect.
We met at the station in February, where she showed me all the paperwork she'd collected.
"The first notice I got was in September, it's dated September 10, 2009," Miller says as she shows me the full page notice.
What did you think when you opened that in the mail? I asked.
"I've never been to Chicago, so I'm really surprised to get a ticket from Chicago."
According to the citation, Miller double parked her Chevy in Chicago on August 14, 2009.
Miller says her dad suggested she call the city's Department of Revenue, which she did. Then, a second notice led to a second phone call.
"All they have is my address, and they know I drive a Chevy," Miller says as she looks over the tickets. "it doesn't say anything else about my vehicle."
No license plate number? I ask. No driver's license number?
The third notice packed an even bigger punch. The parking fine jumped from $100 to $200.
Then, the notices stopped coming.
"When I didn't receive anything on it, and the fact that I called them and sent them letters, I just assumed that one of the letters or one of the conversations I had, had cleared it up," she recalls.
But then, Miller got a not-so-sweet surprise on Valentine's Day 2013. The city of Chicago had her state wages garnished.
"They had garnished $244 plus a $15 processing fee," Miller says, showing me the notice that came with her check.
What Miller didn't know and I later learned, an Illinois law passed back in 2011 allows municipalities to collect overdue bills in various ways, including check garnishment if the violator works for the state.
But, Miller has compelling proof she was nowhere near the windy city that August evening.
According to the ticket, you were double parking or standing or doing something in Chicago on what date? I asked.
"On August 14, 2009 at 18:40," Miller responds.
I handed her copies of her work record for that year.
Ok, this came from your Human Resources (department), tell me what that shows.
"It shows that I was at work. On August 13 I worked from 6:45am to 3:00pm. On August 14, I worked from 6:45am to 3:00pm, and then I worked overtime from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. And I also worked August 15 from 6:45am to 3:00pm and then 3:00pm to 10:00pm. "
Miller's dilemma took a better turn, when I found out her missing money had not been sent to Chicago, at least not yet.
The Illinois Comptroller's office collected that money, and still had it.
What happened to the money that came out of Roberta's check? I asked spokesman Brad Hahn over the phone.
"Those dollars are set aside for a 60 day period," Hahn explained from his Chicago office. "And that period is a place for reasons just like this."
I forwarded Hahn's office Miller's information and work record.
"In this case, Ms. Miller came forward with information showing she was at work," Hahn tells me. "And she also provided testimony to our office about who had access to her vehicle. Given the circumstances and the number of questions involved, the office determined that the money should be returned to Ms. Miller. So the money that had been set aside to pay her parking ticket, is now being returned," Hahn tells me.
On Tuesday, Roberta happily showed me the check--all $259 returned. But, as the Comptroller's office explained to both of us, she still has an un addressed debt with the city of Chicago.
"When you don't take the opportunity to challenge a ticket, the local government then considers it a valid ticket and proceeds with collection efforts," Hahn explains.
"According to the Comptroller, you have to wait for verification," Miller tells me. "And, at this point, I'm still going to be waiting for verification after I call them to see if the ticket's cleared up."
I've reached out to the mayor's press office in Chicago, to see what Roberta can do to challenge the ticket correctly with the city's Department of Revenue.