Cancer Patient Jailed After Missing Two $25 Traffic Payments

Posted at 6:18 PM, Jan 28, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-28 18:51:26-05

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.