March 17, 2010

Out-of-state toll violator may be worst on turnpike

DAVID HENCH

— By

Staff Writer

Maine State Police believe they have nabbed the state's worst turnpike toll scofflaw.

Derek M. Theriault, a 28-year-old cardiovascular technician at Portsmouth (N.H.) Regional Hospital, was charged Friday with racking up roughly 1,300 toll-evasion violations.

Since 2005, Theriault has made a habit of driving through E-ZPass lanes at tollbooths while his E-ZPass account has had no money in it, said Trooper Roger Teachout.

Theriault's unpaid tolls add up to $1,797.50. He is charged with a felony count of theft of services.

''To my knowledge, he's the worst violator we have,'' Teachout said.

Theriault, who lives in Rochester, N.H., has made frequent trips to the Portland area. Maine Turnpike Authority records show that he often slipped through the tolls at Exit 44 in Scarborough, Teachout said.

Theriault could not be reached for comment late Friday.

Teachout said that New Hampshire suspended Theriault's license last summer because he failed to pay his E-ZPass tolls there.

It's unclear whether Theriault realized that vehicles that pass through E-ZPass lanes are photographed when transponders register accounts without money.

In addition to a 52-page toll-skipping rap sheet, police have 10 pages of pictures of Theriault's car passing through various tollbooths.

Teachout staked out the York toll plaza at 6:30 a.m. Friday and waited for Theriault's 1995 black Jeep Wrangler with New Hampshire plates. Theriault was arrested and taken to the York County Jail, where he was released on $2,500 cash bail.

He is scheduled to appear in York County Superior Court in Alfred on May 14.

Theriault has amassed the most violations of anyone in recent memory, said Dan Paradee, spokesman for the Maine Turnpike Authority.

''I think this guy probably takes the cake so far,'' he said. ''We had suspended the guy's E-ZPass for failure to pay back in 2005. Ever since then, he's been shooting through the E-ZPass lane.''

Theriault wouldn't be the first to duck tolls and suffer the consequences. The state rescinded the registrations on 1,024 Maine vehicles in the first six months of last year because their owners didn't pay tolls or respond to warning letters from the state.

''It's a little tougher for us with out-of-state vehicles,'' Paradee said.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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