Crime and punishment

Addressing reporters in Dallas late last month, the lawyer for Evange-lina Gonzalez called it "more than fair" after she pleaded no contest to three misdemeanor citations and agreed to pay a fine for cruising through the collection booths on the North Texas Tollway without paying. How much? Almost $7,600. Whoa, that sounds like a lot of money for a few misdemeanors, right? Well, yes, until you realize that the court could have ordered her to fork over the entire amount she's accused of owing for the roughly 3,000 times she failed to stop between June 2003 and last November, when police finally arrested her. That would have been - phew! - $76,000, counting the "administrative fee" for each violation, making her the No. 1 offender in the history of the limited-access road. But she'll be able to remit the money in 10 monthly installments , and, if she's prompt, the tollway authority has the option of agreeing to erase the citations from her record. Through its attorney, the authority sent word that it was "satisfied" with the resolution. Oh, in case you were wondering: Had Gonzalez used the Texas version of the E-ZPass, all those trips would have cost her $1,800.

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