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After Delinquent Court Fees Piled up for Years, Cuyahoga County Collects $1.1 Million

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Cuyahoga County officials say they have crossed a milestone in collecting some of the millions of dollars owed to the county in unpaid court fees. ideastream’s Nick Castele reports.

Monday, May 12, 2014 at 4:35 pm

For years, the county didn’t do a good job collecting court fees -- the costs owed to the court by parties in a lawsuit, or by people convicted of crimes. From 2002 to 2011, unpaid bills added up to more than $63 million.

They’ll probably never get most of what’s owed, but officials said the county recently started chasing this money more aggressively.

More than $100,000 in delinquent fees is collected some months, and more than $1.1 million dollars in all since 2012.

“I do believe word is out as well that now Cuyahoga County is doing something about the court costs, and that you can’t just let them sit," said new county Clerk of Courts Andrea Rocco, whose appointment to the position was confirmed last year.

Rocco said if a bill goes unpaid for 90 days now, the county turns it over to the state attorney general’s office, or to debt collectors NCO or to Weltman, Weinberg & Reis.

"What is most notable about this process is it does not cost the taxpayers any money at all," she said. "The attorney general as well as the other two vendors collect the money that is owed to the general fund, and then they take a percentage from the debtor."

Rocco said the collectors call and send letters to people who owe money -- and the AG can even take the debt out of tax refunds and lottery winnings.

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