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LEADER OF THE PACK NOW HAS HIS OWN PARKING SPACE

Nobody has a better track record at getting Buffalo parking tickets dismissed than Paul G. Gaughan.

Gaughan, of the Village of Hamburg, fought 28 tickets over the past two years and got 95 percent of the parking fines and late fees waived. That's $1,205 saved -- the most among area residents. He got most of the tickets in downtown Buffalo for parking at expired meters or in no-standing zones, often when he was trying to avoid being late for work.

Gaughan, 47, deputy commissioner of jurors in Erie County, works in Erie County Hall.

"I don't have an explanation," Gaughan said, when asked how he persuaded the Parking Violations Bureau to dismiss the tickets.

"I just stated I would be late or something," said Gaughan, a Hamburg village trustee. "Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't."

Gaughan is among the government officials who, if ticketed in the course of doing their job, can protest their tickets outside the normal hearing process.

Parking Enforcement Director Leonard G. Sciolino, who established that policy, tells these officials to write a letter. Sciolino then passes the letters, often with his own note attached, to a hearing officer, who almost always dismisses or reduces the fines.

Sciolino said he never asked Gaughan to specify about the violations when Gaughan called him for help. He said he assumed Gaughan was using his vehicle during the course of business.

"I don't even check," Sciolino said. "I give him the benefit of the doubt because he's a deputy commissioner of jurors. That's all. That's the only reason. Nothing else. I don't know what he tells them."

Nineteen of Gaughan's tickets were dismissed this way for a $685 savings, including $225 on five expired inspection and registration tickets.

Other times, he appeared before different hearing officers, who waived $375 of $435 in pending fines.

Sciolino's staff dismissed $145 in other tickets without a hearing.

Sciolino began to lose patience after Gaughan's most recent calls.

"I tell him to send me a letter or come in," Sciolino said, recounting one telephone call from Gaughan asking for help. "But I tell him, 'Paul, I can't do this all the time.' "

Gaughan paid $475 for the 15 tickets he did not challenge and for three that were only partially forgiven.

Gaughan no longer is a presence in the bureau. He recently began paying $26 a month for a parking space under the Skyway near the Memorial Auditorium.

"I'm at peace here," Gaughan said in the parking lot after work one day last week.

e-mail: plakamp@buffnews.com

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