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Smoking in school costs New Florence man more than a fine


A New Florence man has paid a high price for smoking in the boys room.

Michael Delgado, 19, of Osborn Street, was released Friday from the Westmoreland County jail after spending two nights there for refusing to pay $96 in fines and costs for twice smoking at the Eastern Westmoreland Career and Technology Center in Derry Township.

He was cited for smoking in school on Dec. 3, 2010, and Nov. 15, 2011, and pleaded guilty both times, according to court records.

He was a cyber school student who did not graduate, according to Ligonier Valley High School records.

"I told him that it's the first time in 22 years that I've ever had to throw anyone in jail for a smoking violation," Derry Township District Judge Mark Bilik said. "It was frustrating for me to do it, but what else can you do when someone continually refuses to take any responsibility?

"I asked him when the sheriff's deputies brought him in Wednesday, 'Aren't you embarrassed?' and he said he was but said he did not have money," the judge said.

The judge said 21⁄2 years "is plenty of time" for Delgado to have paid the penalty.

"Cut somebody's grass ... or shovel some snow," he said.

Court records indicate that Bilik's office set up special payment plans for Delgado three times since 2010, but he never completed the payments.

"It's costing the state taxpayers at least $78 every time we have to send out sheriff's deputies to serve him. Plus, we have to send him numerous certified letters requesting payment, mailing pre-warrant notices. ... It all adds up," Bilik said.

Bilik said he can't arbitrarily select who must pay fines and who can ignore them.

With Delgado spending two nights in jail and having no criminal record, he can get on with his life without regular visits from sheriff's deputies bearing arrest warrants, he said.

"And I can clear my books of the case reporting it was settled with time served," Bilik said.

This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.