fax machine

We're not sure what's more amusing about this story, the obvious and clichéd abuse of power or the retro charm of dialing the wrong fax number. C'mon, who even faxes anymore? We've gotten so used to people getting busted by accidentally e-mailing everyone in their address book or slipping up on Facebook that we almost feel sorry for the clerk in question, entangled by '90s technology. Almost.

Joann Reed, the records clerk for the sheriff in St. Clair County, Illinois, sent a three-page fax including a copy of a speeding ticket, with a handwritten note saying, "Dismiss this case" and "The guy is the son of one of our deputies." Ostensibly she meant to send the fax to the prosecuting attorney in the village that issued the ticket, but instead, she faxed the local newspaper, the Belleville News-Democrat, which is where we heard about the story.

Apparently unaware that karma already had her number, Reed's next move was worthy of the worst of Illinois politicians. Indeed, when the newspaper started asking questions, the one-time mayoral candidate pulled a Blagojevich, fabricating a story about trying to help a college student get out of the ticket and denying that she was currying favor for a deputy. Problem is, the newspaper did some more digging and discovered that, indeed, the $175 citation for doing 43 in a 20-mile-per-hour zone was issued to the 18-year-old son of a sheriff's deputy. Who says investigative journalism is dead?

Speaking of investigations, Sheriff Mearl Justus says he'll be launching one, telling the newspaper, "I'll take some action."