Cancer Patient Jailed After Missing Two $25 Traffic Payments

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IONIA, Mich. — Last summer, Kim Hartman, 47, was told that if she could live long enough to have surgery to remove her cancer-ridden stomach, she still stood just a 10 percent chance of survival.

Well, she made it through anyway.

But now, another number – $50 – put her in Ionia County Jail on Saturday night.

Back in March, Hartman was in a traffic accident in Ionia. Investigators say she wasn’t at fault – but she didn’t have insurance. That meant a fine, and Hartman began a $25-a-month payment plan with Ionia County District Court.

She made a $100 payment in October, thinking that it would cover payments through January.

But that wasn’t the case. A minimum of $25 had to be paid every month – just like a credit card bill.

On Dec. 11, Hartman got a letter from the district court informing her of a missed payment in November. The letter stated she had 14 days to pay for November and December – $50 total – or a bench warrant would be issued.

Hartman was under the impression she had paid up, so the two weeks came and went.

On Jan. 7, a warrant was issued for Hartman’s arrest – and was served at her doorstep this past Saturday.

“The officer showed up at my door,” she says. “Of course, I let him in. He said I had an outstanding ticket that was not paid. He told me that a bench warrant had been issued and he had to take me to jail.”

“He’s doing his job, but it’s like, you know, ‘Really?

One of Hartman’s kids paid the bail – the total amount of the original ticket – and got Kim out after a few hours.

Tina Lavia got online and told FOX 17 about Hartman’s situation.

“There was no empathy, no nothing,” she said. (The officer) took her to jail. Did he have to? No.”

Ionia Public Safety Deputy Director John Odette said his department was just following normal business on weekends.

“Being the weekend, no other information was available except that there was a valid warrant and a specific bond set for the warrant,” Odette said. “Once the warrant is issued by the courts, our officers are sworn to and have a duty to act on that warrant.”

According to the Ionia County District Court, anybody who misses a monthly payment gets the same letter Hartman got.

Hartman received the same letter from the court for missing a July payment. She was in the hospital in July having her cancerous stomach completely removed. She paid for July and August’s installments before the two-week notice expired.

Hartman has no previous criminal record, aside from March’s insurance ticket. She will be arraigned on Feb. 5.

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  • cgs

    seems to me i remember ionia county killing a man and paying out a huge settlement to his family for their aggressive tactics in picking up people on traffic warrants why do they continue this practice ,,,slow day?most counties know it'll catchup to you sooner or later if you dont pay

    • kevin

      That lunatic shot and changed the life permanently of a sheriff's deputy after fleeing. He shot first and the county was wrong by settling. It was an insurance issue to keep it out of the courts.

  • jlastocy

    We constantly hear about the lack of police officers, the lack of funding. So instead of going out and looking for real criminals with huge bonds, we are just going to make "easy arrests"? Mitch Fick needs to go back to Deputy Director John Odette & find out how many other warrants Ionia County had that they ignored, so they could go do this "easy" one. Don't you usually get two or three warning notices, and maybe even a phone call from a utility company before they shut off your service? Couldn't a short phone call from the court explaining that her $100 payment didn't pay ahead – have avoided all of this? How much did it cost to send the officer out, to book her, the people to process her, the people who will have to handle all of the court dealings. Wouldn't a quick phone call – or a $.45 letter explaining this – have been better? Ionia County was totally wrong in what they did – shame on them!!!

  • jlastocy

    __Again, how many other warrants did they not serve??? Her bond was $500 – any bonds larger? I'll bet there is. Granted – she did break the law – but seriously people!!! Is her crime worse than murder, assault, burglary, $25,000 or more owed in child support? Absolutely NOT.

  • Scott

    Another crazy thing will be at her arraignment when they tell her that they owe her money. If her kid payed the court the original fine in order to get her out of jail the court will reimburse to her the monthly payments she had made minus court costs.

  • Danette

    Wow, A woman that is fighting for her life thought she paid ahead of time so that her payments were paid was jailed? She is also exposed to others colds or sicknesses. I guess when it rains it pours…sorry Kim, I hope everything is ok and I offer my help in anyway.

    • Danette

      Why did they not explain to her she could not pay ahead? She probably is on a tight budget also with not being able to work with hospital bills and such.

  • bountyguy

    I am sick and tired of decent respectful people being punished by the courts just because they can.
    She was on a set up payment plan so when she paid the 25.she should have been paid upp for the next three months plus the month she paid for.
    Ok heres the deal it was 50.00 they spent how much for the judge to sit on the bench to issue the warrent then how much to have it go through the channels before entering the lein system and then for the officer to go to her house and arrest her and place her in jail taking up needed space for real criminals .
    The cost of booking her and scheduling a court date plus all the paper work and people involved I would say about 5,000.00 dollars to arrest a decent human IDONT UNDERSTAND they dont go arrest dead beat parents or other violent offenders they wait until they are pulled over or involved in something involving the police then make the arrest
    OH BUT WAIT THEY KNEW SHE WOULD BE AT HOME BECAUSE OF THE CANCER KEEPING HER DOWN. I dont even know this lady but I feel so sorry for her to be put through that and dealing with cancer I hiope the p[olice and courts in Ionia feel real PROUD OF THEMSELFS for getting this hardened criminal off the streets

  • Bill

    So if Ionia has enough cops to be doing this sort of thing, then I don't ever want to hear their "leaders" complaining about budget cuts and begging for more. They seem to have a great plenty.

  • billie

    you all know the ionia city is broke they need there money some how and the city not mess around with people or gead beat dad dont pay child support ok i pay my for yrs too ionia i have 4 more months to go thin im done with ionia city he haaaa good luck every one in ionia city

  • guest

    If i was at her house id of punched the dumbass for being so disrespectful to decent human beings. I think a jury of my peers would have agreed with me.

  • Ron

    It's the law – as sad as her circumstances may be. "we must be insured to drive". Period.
    Warrant…. if they say that's really sad, you can go. Then what happens when the next person with a sad story isn't allowed a free pass? Who is to judge "this sad story is ok, this sad story isn't". Then if you're sad story isn't given a free pass – Will you scream it's because you're fat? to skinny? to ethnic? or cross eyed?
    Place yourself in the job of that person. Remember that EVERYONE that breaks the law has a sad story. Just like everyone that's written my company bad checks has a sad story. Compassion is wonderful, but then why not head down to the courthouse and ask what people owe… their story and pay their fines?
    It's great that people have compassion, but there are rules and laws that we all must follow. Especially if we all demand to be treated EQUAL.
    WE ALL have our troubles and ups and downs. We all make our own beds. FACT IS – she shouldn't drive without insurance. What what point do we throw the law out the window and say "well I'm…." doesn't apply to me.

    What if she hit someone walking on the side of the road and put them in the ICU? Who's going to pay that poor person's medical bills? (not the drivers insurance – she has none).

    • Jean

      Obviously you did not read to entire article. She believed she was paid up when a $100 payment was made in October. The issue I see is that the courts have now spent hundreds or thousands of dollars more when a simple follow up letter or call would have resolved the issue.

      I hope you never find yourself in a position where you must choose between paying for over priced car insurance or buying food and medicine. It sounds like you have been pretty fortunate in life.

      • guest

        The court would NOT know if someone is sick. She got the same letter EVERY other person gets every month that is behind on their payments. When she got the letter that stated she was behind two payments and have two weeks to catch it up or a warrant would be issued she should have followed up with the court, she did not so therefore got the warrant. I can promise you if I received a letter like from the courtthat stated I was going to get a warrant, I would be calling to find out what was going on. The court is not at fault, if this person would have called and explained the circumstances it would have not gone that far.

  • Ron

    Try this… All of you above – "Sick" of the courts. Imagine your child, or sibling… and say they were hit while on the side of the road by a driver with no insurance. The medical bills are 100's of thousands.
    Don't you think your being a bunch of hypocrites?
    This is what judges do… they perceive such issues from all different angles and scenarios. You can bend a law for one and not everyone. Laws must be upheld – else they're meaningless.
    If anything I feel laws are to lax. She was allowed a EASY payment plan. Seems to me that she was given a flexible solution. (without being unfair to other people who break the same law).

    • joey

      you missed the point, she was making payments and was not avoiding her obligation of payment, no one is saying she should not have to pay the fine. really need to read and understand what happened, no one is asking for the law to be bent for someone who is sick. re-read and get the point. problem with ionia is they always go after the easy prey whether they need to or not. they are real good at nabbing the honest mistake people who confess because they have a guilty conscious. they are real good a letting the real dangerous criminals off or just ignoring them. if it takes too much effort on ionias part they just assume let it go and hope the problem leaves the area

  • jlastocy

    Have you ever paid your electric bill twice in one month by accident? I have. And guess what? The next month I DID NOT OWE anything. A lot of people do that – they pay ahead of time when they have the money so they don't have to scrounge later. The biggest complaint most people seem to have is that this was done for $50.00! Ridiculous.

  • 2013worldseries

    Right, I'm battling cancer but paying some stupid parking tickets is on my bucket list. Arsewholes. Leave this poor woman alone. My brother died of stomach cancer and it aint pretty. Besides, won't the city or whatever be liable for her medical bills while she is incarcerated if anything else should happen to her? Isn't that why they did not arrest that murder suspect (the one arrested in Chicago) when he was in the hospital?

  • dann

    seems to me when she got the letter she might have thought about calling and asking the 1st question that came to my mind is didnt the 100.00 i paid mean i am good for now. but no she ignored the letter so yeah stupidity is no excuse.

  • Mark

    The police department is obviously operated by the same group of people that have ZERO common sense as most other government offices. ANd we wonder why the city, the county, the state and the federal government are all broke. It because of this exact type of ignorance. Lets crack down on the BAD ASS chick with cancer who didnt pay her traffic fine…oh did we just drive by a drug house??? Oh never mind those people are scarey!!!!!!

  • Joyce

    I don't know of anyone who is proud to say they live in Ionia,Mi. Yes, they do som very stupid things here. For instance, look at all the child molesters that are walking the streets in this town. One thing for sure, it's who you are or who you know in Ionia.

  • Guest

    After reading about this, it made me sad to see that they would go after somebody for a measly $50.00 and put them in jail but let former drug dealers and meth heads bail out and put them on probation to only turn around and d it again. one gentlemen was caught not once but 3 times, that right I said 3 times before they finally decided to send him away for awhile. Ionia DOES NOT have a very good rep any more. Just saying. God bless this Ms. Hartmen… I hope you win this battle!!!

  • ardith payne

    this just makes me sick. why dont they spend more time trying to find all these people that are killing people and just give her time to pay the $50.00. What a_ _ holes. I am praying for you Kimmy and hope you get out of this. I cant belive they are going to arraign you. Tell your mom to call me and let me know what goes on. Love Ya

  • marty

    if her kid had the money to bail her out, they should have paid her bill in the first place! not sure but if she read her paperwork she would hae seen she had to pay every month! after she read the letter telling her she was late she should have paid it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Feel sorry she has/had cancer but you still need to be an adult. YOU who talk bad about the police are the frst to call them for help or to complain.