From the Highway to Hard Knocks: Chinese Man Gets Life in Prison for Evading Tolls

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Scott Eells / Bloomberg

Too bad there’s no EZ-Pass out of jail.

After bilking toll collectors out of 3.5 million yuan ($530,000), it’s time for Shi Jianfeng to face the fines. Shi allegedly avoided paying tolls more than 2,300 times on central Chinese highways by disguising his two trucks as military vehicles, which are exempt from fees. He used fake military license plates and uniforms to bypass the toll collectors while running a gravel transporting business from May 2008 to January 2009.

(More on See China’s 62-mile traffic jam.)

Shi was charged with fraud for displaying the fake military details, and given the thousands of times he duped the toll takers, a judge sentenced him to life in prison, along with a 2 million yuan ($303,000) fine.

But Chinese citizens have rallied behind Shi’s hefty sentence, calling the punishment is much too severe for the crime. And message boards noted that Shi only profited $30,000 during his toll-free days, a total that would have meant a hefty deficit. Luckily, it emerged Friday that the outcry had earned Shi a new trial because the man may have not acted alone in his deceptive driving practices.

But until then, Shi faces the fast lane to the prison yard. (via AP)