A New Jersey man owes nearly $63,000 in fines for his relentless habit of dodging tolls by abusively using an EZ Pass lane, the Port Authority alleges in a new lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, alleges that Manalapan resident Joseph Castoria III racked up a $14,230 bill for unpaid tolls on Port Authority bridges and tunnels between 2013 and 2018, according to EZ Pass Lane, around Passing through a toll checkpoint 975 different times while successfully avoiding cash tolls that will cost $16 per pass in 2022.
The Port Authority says Castoria is also on the hook for over $48,000 in “management fees” for the agency’s unsuccessful decade of trying to collect the debt. According to the EZ Pass Terms and Conditions, the Port Authority owes $50 in administration fees every time someone bypasses their tolls. The Authority’s surveillance system identifies violators’ vehicles and license plates, and the Port Authority then sends a subpoena to the address on the vehicle registration document.
Therefore, the authority demands from the alleged mocker a total of 62,980 US dollars in damages.
“The continued and continued use of the Port Authority’s toll road facilities by the defendant’s motor vehicles without payment of the required tolls constitutes multiple trespassing on the Port Authority’s property without their permission and violates the law,” said Port Authority attorney Derek Soltis, a Associates of the law firm of Peter C. Merani, in the complaint.
Castoria received subpoenas for each of its 975 infractions but returned none, the Port Authority claimed.
The Port Authority, a joint state entity between New York and New Jersey, controls the Hudson River crossings that span the two states, such as the George Washington Bridge and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels.
Earlier this year, the agency’s Big Apple counterpart, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, estimated that it would lose up to $50 million in toll evasion at its intersections in 2022.
The Port Authority has not provided figures for its own toll evasion losses on the New York Metro and declined to comment further on the lawsuit. Castoria could not be reached for comment.
Increasingly today, the hot tactic of toll evasion is the use of illegal license plate covers to prevent cameras from identifying a mocker’s vehicle. The MTA, in cooperation with the Port Authority, NYPD and others, announced a crackdown on covered plates in May, but the practice remains widespread. The agency has also formed a “Blue Ribbon Panel” to determine how best to tackle fare and toll evasion, which is expected to release its findings before the end of the year.