Truth and honesty, that's the ticket

Actor and comedian Marty Ingels has a bit of a moral dilemma when he beats a parking ticket, then realizes he was guilty. Wife Shirley Jones offers him advice.

Marty Ingels and Shirley Jones

Marty Ingels, seen with wife Shirley Jones in 2005, beat a parking ticket before realizing that he deserved to pay the fine. His wife says he should return the $293 to the city. (Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images / June 23, 2005)

Marty Ingels, the actor and comedian whose wife is Oscar-winning actress and "Partridge Family" mom Shirley Jones, could not believe the injustice.

He went into a photo shop on Ventura Boulevard, looked out the window and saw a ticket on his car windshield. Ingels charged outside, read the ticket and was convinced there'd been a terrible mistake. The ticket was for parking in a bus zone.

Ingels looked left, he looked right. No bus zone.

Not long after, Ingels called a colleague of mine at The Times, who passed his story on to me. I called him to ask what he'd done about the ticket.

"Fight it, like I do everything," Ingels told me on the phone, saying his wife shared his outrage after hearing him tell the story.

Ingels said he called LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and "what's his name?"

Who? I asked.

"The mayor."

Villaraigosa?

"Yeah, what's-his-name."

Ingels, 76, says the mayor told him he'd have someone look into it. Meanwhile, Ingels had to pay the $293 fine, which he found outrageous, while contesting the ticket. Twice, his challenges were thrown out at administrative hearings, and even then, he kept fighting.

I remembered Ingels, who sounds like he just left Brooklyn yesterday, from his comic days and a TV show called "I'm Dickens, He's Fenster." That was a long time ago, though, and I wondered if the ticket writer got it right and Ingels was a little hazy on where he'd been that day. So I asked him to tell me if the address on the ticket was the address of the photo shop.

No, he said. That was part of the mistake. The ticket was written for a location 10 or 20 blocks away.

OK, I said, but wasn't it possible he had been parked in the bus zone earlier and got the ticket, but didn't notice it until he got to the photo shop?

"You're like a priest and a therapist," Ingels said. "I'll deny we ever spoke."

At this point, Ingels made two confessions.

First, in the time between him calling The Times, and me returning his call, he'd already beaten the ticket.

But the next confession was a doozy. Just as he was notified by mail that the ticket had been dismissed, he realized he was guilty, after all.

Say what?

It was an honest mistake, Ingels insisted. He ran a hundred errands that day, and totally forgot parking in the bus zone while he ran into a sign shop. But the ticket writer had taken photos, and at one of the ticket hearings, a car that looked very much like Ingels' Cadillac Escalade was parked in the bus zone.

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