Six Philly judges among those indicted in Philadelphia Traffic Court ticket 'fixing' scandal [Updated]
Six former or sitting Philadelphia Traffic Court judges were among at least nine people charged in connection with a ticket-fixing scandal in which they allegedly gave "preferential treatment to certain ticketholders," according to the indictment released by the U.S. Attorney's office Thursday morning.
Judges named in the indictment (PDF) are Michael Sullivan, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary, Thomasine Tynes and Mark A. Bruno. Also named were Traffic Court director of operations William Hird, tow-company operator Henry "Eddy" Alfano and translation-services provider Robert Moy.
"Local politicians, including ward leaders, politically connected individuals and others who, because of their influential positions in business, labor or industry, or because of their social connections, asked Traffic Court judges or administrators for preferential treatment on citations issued to constituents, relatives, friends and associates," the indictment stated.
The six judges named and Hird "accepted those requests for preferential treatment because of political support (past, present and future), business, social, or other relationship with the ticketholder or opportunity to obtain some sort of personal benefit," it continued.
In documents separate from the indictment, the U.S. Attorney's office indicated three out-of-county judges — Bucks County District Judge H. Warren Hogeland, Delaware County District Judge Kenneth Miller and Bruno — in connection with the investigation. All three heard cases in Philadelphia Traffic Court (see documents below). Also listed in the document is retired judge Fortunato N. Perri Sr.
It further states that the alleged activities "defrauded the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia of funds to which the Commonwealth and the City were entitled."
One judge reacts before turning herself in
Reached via phone before the indictments were publicly released, Tynes, who retired in July, told NewsWorks that "a lot of stuff went on that I was not aware of. It's embarrassing and upsetting. To be dragged into something like this, it's devastating."
Serving on the bench from 1989 to 2012, Tynes was the President Judge of Traffic Court sine 2005, which is "considered a ceremonial position with no administrative powers."
The indictment has Tynes facing one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of mail fraud, two counts of perjury and aiding and abetting. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, the 70-year-old could face 230 years in prison and a $3.25 million fine.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has scheduled a 4 p.m. press briefing about the 77-count indictment. Some of the defendants (PDF of names and maximum-sentence estimations) have already started surrendering to authorities at the federal building at 6th and Market streets on Thursday morning.
Singletary's attorney weighs in
William J. Brennan, the attorney representing Singletary, told NewsWorks around noon that he just finished reading the indictment.
"I'm pleased to see that the government, after a lengthy investigation, is not alleging that my client took one thin dime," he said, questioning the supposition of defrauding the commonwealth based on potential fines that went uncollected.
He continued that, "for the life of me, I'm reading it, trying to digest it" and can not see how this amounts to a "ticket fixing scheme."
The indictment includes allegations related to 49 counts of wire fraud, 18 counts of mail fraud, five counts of giving false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, four counts of perjury, two counts of aiding and abetting and one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud against various defendants.
NewsWorks will bring you more as the story develops.
Read charges filed from U.S. Attorney Office.