- Between 2011 and 2014, Apple Valley’s finance director paid more than $3,000 in traffic fines
Apple Valley’s Assistant Town Manager Marc Puckett — between February 2011 and December 2014 — collected nine tickets for driving infractions in San Bernardino County and paid more than $3,000 in fines, the Daily Press has learned through a review of court records.
The information revealed in the review was corroborated by two clerks in the Victorville Courthouse for the sake of accuracy. In August, Puckett declined to comment on the traffic violations.
During that span, Puckett — who was charged Wednesday with a felony hit-and-run related to a crash on Interstate 15 earlier this year — was issued six citations for speeding, four of which were dismissed, court records show.
Despite the cases being dismissed, he paid $1,399 in combined fines for three of the four cases and completed traffic school three times, as well. Those completions, however, did “not necessarily” result in the dismissal in those cases, according to one clerk who noted that “a judge can dismiss a case” in certain instances.
With that said, the clerk was confused that Puckett had to complete traffic school considering the cases — from Feb. 10, 2011; Sept. 26, 2013; and Dec. 5, 2014 — were dismissed.
“These cases are pretty old,” she said. “The procedures may have been different back then.”
Puckett was convicted in two of the speeding cases — from April and July 2012 — and paid $570 and $444 in fines, respectively.
Currently, Puckett is charged with fleeing the scene of a crash that resulted in injury to another driver, which stems from a July 20 incident on southbound I-15 that sent his 2011 black Cadillac CTS down an embankment and into a flood control channel 600 feet south of Foothill Boulevard.
The crash also sent the other driver, Lola Espinoza, of Rancho Cucamonga, to Kaiser Permanente in Ontario, where she was treated for injuries to her back and neck.
One week after the crash, Puckett told the Daily Press he was “in an accident,” but he denied hitting another vehicle and suggested he could have been followed by someone associated with Liberty Utilities — the Apple Valley-based water company currently defending itself in an eminent-domain case filed by the town — before the crash.
According to a previous Daily Press report, Puckett contacted law enforcement the day after the crash and was told he didn’t have to file a report if another car wasn’t involved. His name, however, was listed as the owner of the Cadillac that allegedly hit Espinoza’s Toyota Prius on a California Highway Patrol report taken at the scene.
Puckett requested paid personal leave from work for an undisclosed amount of time on Thursday, according to town spokesperson Gina Whiteside.
On April 5, 2011, Puckett was cited for “vehicle stop on red signal.” When asked if that meant he ran a red light, the second clerk said that “depends on which officer wrote the Vehicle Code” on the ticket.
“It could have been a red light camera ticket,” she said. “We scan every citation now, but back then it was all by hand on paper and filed and stored away. I don’t have access to it.”
Puckett pleaded not guilty to the infraction but was convicted and paid a $200 fine, according to court records.
On Aug. 17, 2011, Puckett was stopped and ticketed for not displaying his license plate. He paid a $25 fine and the case was dismissed.
Then, in late November 2014, he was again cited for speeding. Puckett initially pleaded not guilty in the case, but later pleaded no contest after the citing officer lessened the charge, court records show. He was convicted of “coasting out of gear” and paid $534.
Puckett paid fines in eight of the nine cases, all of which were heard in either the Barstow or Fontana courthouses, according to court records. In total, the tickets cost Apple Valley’s finance director $3,172.
More recently, on Oct. 10 — fewer than three months after the I-15 crash — Puckett was again cited for speeding. The first clerk said he has until Jan. 4 to “take some sort of action on this.”
Court records show he could pay a $417 fine for the October infraction.
It’s unknown, however, whether Puckett’s driving history would be used in court, assuming the hit-and-run case goes to trial.
His previous convictions could be used as leverage during the negotiation phase, which typically starts after an arraignment, but a defense attorney would likely object to the inclusion of such evidence based on relevance.
The prosecution would then be tasked with proving the convictions are germane to the hit-and-run case, and a judge would rule on the matter of the inclusion of those convictions prior to the trial’s start.
An arraignment had not been set in Puckett’s hit-and-run case as of Thursday evening, court records show. He remains out of custody, according to jail records.
Source: Matthew Cabe, Daily Press