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LACEYVILLE, Pa. — The district court of a small northern Pennsylvania town is accused of cheating the state by accepting false guilty pleas with the purpose of pocketing 100 percent of reduced fines.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale says the Wyoming County borough of Laceyville — population 371 — accepted false pleas from 1,025 motorists for handicapped parking violations instead of speeding infractions between 2009 and 2013.

DePasquale says police advised speeders to plead not guilty and request a hearing before the local magistrate. Then, offenders were given the opportunity to plead down and have their charges expunged under a first-time offenders program.

As a result, Laceyville kept the full amount of the handicapped-parking fines rather than imposing larger penalties and sending the difference to the state.

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