VA police officer pleads guilty to writing false speeding tickets

Published: Dec. 17, 2013 at 4:22 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 27, 2013 at 9:02 PM EST
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CREWE, VA (WWBT) - A Crewe police officer is off the job after pleading guilty to writing false speeding tickets.

Former Officer William Merritt pleaded guilty to two counts of forgery in Nottoway County Circuit Court Monday. Nottoway County Commonwealth's Attorney Theresa Royall says all parties agreed not to put Merritt behind bars, since he had a clean record and showed acceptance for his actions.

Royall says the incidents surrounding the charges happened on Route 460 on the edge of town. Drivers ticketed along the stretch of road complained that they weren't driving as fast as they were cited in the ticket. The situation prompted a state police investigation, which led to charges of forgery against Merritt.

Royall say eyebrows rose when Merritt turned in a statistically high number of speeding tickets for drivers traveling 66 or 67 miles an hour in the 55 mile an hour zone. An unusually high number of complaints from drivers with clean records, also surfaced, surrounding Merritt.

"It would probably be five, ten minutes… you would see a car every time (getting pulled over)," said Briana Johnson, who works at a restaurant along Route 460 and says she constantly watched drivers getting nabbed by police.

An officer was assigned to clock the same cars as Merritt. Merritt had written up two drivers for speeding at least ten miles over the limit, back in March. However, the other officer monitored the cars going several miles an hour slower.

Merritt ultimately took a plea deal, pleading guilty to slapping two drivers with unwarranted speeding tickets. He resigned from the police department in March, according the Courier-Record newspaper. The local paper also reports 89 other pending traffic tickets were then dismissed by the court.

People in town say the stretch of Route 460 has had a longtime reputation of being a speed trap. The limit is 55 mph on the outskirts of town. It quickly drops to 45 mph once entering the inside of Crewe. However, locals say that police activity has seemingly quieted down.

"We haven't really seen anything lately," said Camillia Epps, who works with Johnson at the restaurant on Route 460.

Royall says anyone who feels they were unfairly ticketed by Merritt can request that their case be reopened, if they originally pleaded not guilty in court.

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