Madison - St. Clair Record

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Illinois officials admit firearm owners were charged extra $1 for FOID cards

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Mar 22, 2016

The Treasurer of Illinois and the Firearms Services Bureau chief admit that residents were charged $1 more than state statute allows when they applied for a firearm owner identification card (FOID).

Jessica Trame, Firearms Services Bureau chief, and Michael Frerichs, Illinois Treasurer, answered the class action complaint on Feb. 2 after several extensions of time.

The defendants admitted that the $11 fee is more than the $10 fee set forth in the FOID Act, but they deny the remaining allegations.

They are represented by assistant attorney general Bilal Aziz in Springfield.

Wood River attorney Thomas Maag filed the class action on Oct. 15 for plaintiff Gary Patrick Sterr, who says he was charged the extra dollar in October as a convenience fee through the Illinois E-pay program for processing applications online.

Maag argues that statute 430 ILCS 65/5 expressly states that the FOID fee is $10.

By charging an additional $1, Trame is unilaterally imposing without statutory authority a 10 percent surcharge on FOID cards, he claims.

He further claims it is impossible to get a FOID card without paying the extra fee on top of the $10 mandatory cost (except for certain members of the military who are exempt all together) because the Firearms Services Bureau some time early this year stopped accepting paper applications that allowed people to mail $10 checks or money orders.

"Defendants have charged a minimum of ten thousand people, and possibly substantially more, well into the hundreds of thousands or millions of class members," Maag wrote.

In 2011, the state received 321,000 FOID applications, he wrote.

He notes that in order to lawfully possess a firearm in Illinois, "it is generally required to have in a person's possession a currently valid" FOID card.

The plaintiff filed a motion to compel on Feb. 16, asking the court to compel the defendants to answer the interrogatories and discovery requests.

He alleges that on Feb. 11, Aziz sent a letter to Maag, objecting to the requests.

Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth set a motion hearing for April 1 at 9 a.m.

Maag seeks to represent a class that includes anyone who applied for a FOID card any time in 2015 and who paid a fee in excess of $10.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 15-L-1337

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