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Actor Proves Culver City Gave A Red-Light Camera Ticket To The Wrong Man

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Actor Steve Tom fought the law and it turned out the law was totally wrong. Steve Tom, 62, has appeared in Major Crimes, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Parks and Recreation, among other films and TV shows. Tom received a ticket in the amount of $490 for allegedly turning right on a red light at Sepulveda Blvd. and Green Valley Circle in Culver City on the afternoon of June 15, the L.A. Times reports. The ticket was not handed to him by an officer who caught him in the act. The ticket was sent to him after a red-light camera supposedly picked up the incident, and an officer who had met Tom before recognized him. However, it was later revealed that the man in the image was not Tom at all.

The registered owner of the Land Rover Discovery caught by the camera was apparently a man named Barry L. Babcock, who Tom has never met. After Tom received the ticket, he researched Babcock and, with the help of a private detective, learned that Babcock has addresses in Missouri and Florida. Tom lives in North Hollywood and drives a 2002 Prius. Tom also learned that he and Mr. Babcock look strikingly similar to one another.

Tom told the police about Babcock, but to no avail. He said he got a call from the officer who had met him before, who told him the city would win.

"He said, when I saw the photograph I knew it was you. You can bring as many attorneys, but it is you," Tom said the officer told him.

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Tom eventually went to the L.A. Times, telling the that the real culprit was his "doppelgänger." In that first article, Culver City Police Capt. Ron Iizuka seemed certain they had their man.

"It is a high-quality video," Iizuka said. "We are sure it's him."

Iizuka also apparently told the Times that Tom and Babcock knew one another, by Tom’s own admission. Tom claims he has never met Babcock, something Babcock later confirmed to the Times. (Babcock did not care to comment on the red light situation.) Finally, Culver City police dismissed the ticket against Tom, and apologized to him on Monday. Tom told the Times he's happy about the outcome, but questions why he had to hire a private detective and get an article in the Times before it could all be put to rest.

Culver City Police Capt. Ron Iizuka said they were "happy to resolve" the issue and thanked a reporter for keeping the department on its toes. All's well that ends well, as they say, but what if the bogus ticket had been issued to someone without the means or know-how to track down the real owner of the car? What if it had been someone who was unable to get media attention so easily? For your average American, $490 is not a small amount of money.

The city of Los Angeles voted to shut down its red light camera program in 2011, after determining the program cost too much money, wasn't particularly enforceable and actually resulted in more rear-end collisions. However, other cities such as Culver City and Beverly Hills, still employ them.