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Elvis license plate leads Nevada retiree to be unfairly ticketed for 3 decades

Ann Schmidt

James Mesinger's license plates have been causing him trouble for about as long as he's had them.

The 82-year-old retiree, from Sparks, Nev., first bought the state-issued "Elvis" vanity plates in 1978.

He told FOX Business that just a few years later -- in the mid-1980s or so -- he received a ticket in the mail for a toll bridge in Minnesota -- even though he hadn't gone there himself.

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In fact, not even his Lincoln Town Car had been there. The cameras at the toll had captured another car's novelty license plate and sent the ticket to Mesinger instead.

Unfortunately, that was only the beginning.

By the late 2000s into the early 2010s, Mesinger said he started getting entire bundles of tickets and toll charges for all kinds of vehicles -- none of which were his. The tickets came in from California, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

"If you add all the money up, I'd say it's probably $4 or $5,000," he said.

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But no matter how many times he tried to explain the situation to collectors -- including the fact that he hadn't left Nevada for 15 years -- no one listened. Instead, the ticket costs kept rising and collectors threatened to take him to court or hurt his credit score.

"It just went on like that and went on and went on," he said, adding later: "They just kept harassing me about it."

Eventually, Mesinger called in the local ABC station, KOLO, who got Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D.-Nev., involved, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who reported on the story earlier this month.

Cortez Masto's office contacted Kentucky officials -- where the worst tickets were from -- who eventually waived the fees.

"They finally sent me a letter and it said that they would cancel all the tickets," Mesinger said.

They were waived just before Christmas, and Mesinger told FOX Business that he hasn't received another toll charge or ticket in the last month.

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"I'm so glad to help James Mensinger get his erroneous toll charges dismissed just in time for the holidays," Cortez Masto tweeted back in December. "Please contact my office if you think we can help. I'm here to serve all Nevadans."

Despite all the trouble, Mesinger said he's going to keep the plates because he and his wife -- who recently passed away -- "like Elvis an awful lot."

"No, I won't change my license plate," he said. "Because if I give it up, maybe somebody else might take it."

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