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DATE News (chronologically)
02/04/12
irl
Marco Andretti cleared of Garage Gate allegations  UPDATE #3
Marco Andretti - In the wrong place at the wrong time
As noted earlier today when made aware of our error by posting this news item claiming Marco Andretti was charged with breaking the traffic gate of the parking garage, when in fact he was never charged, Marco Andretti has been completely cleared of any wrongdoing. 

We here at AutoRacing1.com sincerely apologize to Marco Andretti for this error on our part, it was a mistake and wrong.  We are sure the original story below by LehighValley.com that came out alleging Marco Andretti may have been involved,  has caused him and the Andretti family much anguish when in fact it was another driver that broke the gate.  If the gate had not malfunctioned in the first place, none of this would have happened.

In addition, we repeated what the LehighValleyLive.com article reported - that Andretti had been involved in other traffic violations.  We have since been told they were only minor traffic violations - for instance, Marco driving on the sidewalk was simply a citation for him parking his vehicle with two wheels up on a curb.  It was wrong for LehighValleyLive.com to publish this inaccurate information and for AR1.com to repeat it without checking its accuracy.  Again, apologies to Marco Andretti.

Garage Gate
Express-Times Photo MATT SMITH
02/04/12 Late Friday night, Bethlehem police confirmed that surveillance footage cleared Andretti of ever touching the gate.

Bethlehem Parking Authority Executive Director Tom Hartley said an authority maintenance worker witnessed the gate being broken and recorded a car’s license plate.

“Apparently somebody sat there probably two and half, maybe three minutes and couldn’t get the credit card to work,” Hartley said. “There’s a call-for-help button — maybe they didn’t see it — but it’s monitored 24-7.”

Bethlehem police reported today that Marco Andretti was one of three men who pushed the exit gate of the North Street Garage at 10:32 p.m. Thursday without paying. They later cleared him of all involvement.

The surveillance video shows a man exiting the rear of Andretti’s vehicle, approach the malfunctioning machine and unsuccessfully attempt to lift the gate, police said.

Then, a second man from the vehicle behind Andretti’s breaks the gate by pushing on it, police report.

The other man, whom police did not identify, has accepted responsibility for the damage and offered to make restitution, police said.

The garage’s new electronic payment gates went into effect in January. Parking rates for the garage are 75 cents an hour.

The incident caused an estimated $1,000 worth of damage to the Bethlehem Parking Authority’s new electronic payment system, reports say.

Andretti said he tried to pay with four different credit cards and cash but the system wouldn’t register his payment.

“We just had a $600 dinner, we weren’t trying to get out of a parking fee,” said Andretti, who said he dined at Edge. “This is nothing me or my family believes in — we don’t live like that.”

Andretti said he wishes he were in town Friday so he could straighten out the matter with city authorities.

“They got my license plate, so all of a sudden I’m guilty?” Andretti said. His license plate includes his IndyCar number and his initials — 26MA.

“If I broke it, I deserve it, but I didn’t break it,” he said.

Bethlehem Deputy Police Commissioner Craig Finnerty said earlier Friday the police officer who filed the initial report would be looking into the matter more that evening.

“He was there. He was one of the people that was spotted because of his celebrity status,” Finnerty said of Andretti. “He was adamant it wasn’t him. There was a guy behind him.”

Andretti’s uncle, Giuseppe Curto, said he experienced similar problems with the electronic system after the family also dined at Edge on Jan. 27. He said it took him about 10 minutes for the system to register his credit card and drivers behind him got angry.

“There’s an issue with the parking garage,” he said. “I feel bad that the gate was broken, but Marco didn’t break the gate.” Express Times

02/03/12 CORRECTION: We had the wrong headline on this article previously.  Andretti has not been charged, but the police report states it was theft - whoever did it.  Andretti claims it was the car behind him.

Andretti
02/03/12 Bethlehem, PA police say IndyCar driver Marco Andretti broke a city parking garage gate instead of paying his parking fee Thursday night.

A spokesman for Andretti, 24, of Bushkill Township, said it wasn't his car but the car behind him in the garage that broke the gate.

"It wasn’t him, it was the car behind him which was somebody he didn’t know," Andretti manager Gary Tribolet said.

Andretti was identified by a car registration search and a witness as one of three men who pushed the exit gate of the North Street Garage at 10:32 p.m. Thursday night without paying, Bethlehem police reports say. The incident caused an estimated $1,000 worth of damage to the Bethlehem Parking Authority’s new electronic payment system, reports say. zzzz

The incident is listed as a theft in Bethlehem police reports. Employees at the office of District Judge Roy Manwaring said no charges had been filed against Andretti in relation to the incident.

The garage’s electronic payment system had just been installed in January. Parking rates for the garage are 75 cents an hour.

Parking authority Executive Director Tom Hartley did not immediately return a call for comment.

Andretti previously had pleaded guilty three times to failing to abide by traffic control devices in 2004, 2005 and 2009 in Northampton County and also pleaded guilty to driving the wrong way and driving on the sidewalk in Nazareth in January 2005, according to court records. LehighValleyLive.com

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