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Published: Tuesday, 11/4/2008

Toledo police warn 'Joe' instead of a ticket

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wurzelbacher Wurzelbacher
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Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher's notoriety may have saved him a $123 speeding ticket last week.

According to a report submitted Sunday by a Toledo Police Department patrol officer, Mr. Wurzelbacher 34, of Springfield Township was pulled over on Dorr Street at Smead Avenue about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday after his black Dodge Durango was clocked with a laser device at 50 mph in a 35 mph zone.

But Officer Scott Bailey recognized Mr. Wurzelbacher's name and informed patrol partner Charles Leroux, who then gave Joe the Plumber a verbal warning before releasing him.

In the written report, Officer Bailey cited an ongoing investigation of a Toledo police clerk's alleged improper check of Mr. Wurzelbacher's records in a state database as the reason a warning was issued.

"This unit gave warning because of ongoing investigation of the Toledo Police Department involving Mr. Wurzelbacher and felt issuing a citation could have negative repercussions to the department and the city as a whole," the officer wrote.

Although Officer Bailey wrote that he immediately notified superiors about the traffic stop, police Chief Michael Navarre said last night he did not learn of the incident until Friday. That's when authorities managing the state information databases called to advise him that Mr. Wurzelbacher's records had been checked again, this time from a police computer in a cruiser.

The chief declined to comment on the contents of Officer Bailey's report, saying he had not seen it, nor known of its existence until watching a televised news report last night.

"Officers have discretion when they make traffic stops to issue warnings," the chief said.

Mr. Wurzelbacher became a national celebrity when he questioned Democrat Barack Obama on his tax proposals when the candidate was in the Toledo area last month preparing for the final presidential debate.

Mr. Wurzelbacher has since appeared with the Republican presidential ticket throughout Ohio.

Mr. Wurzelbacher did not respond to a message left at his home last night seeking comment.

According to Toledo Clerk of Court Vallie Bowman-English's Web site, the fine for a speeding conviction for 19 mph or less over the speed limit is $123.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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