Names released in Phila. traffic court investigation; includes 9 judges

Robert Mulgrew and Willie Singletary
January 31, 2013 8:05:29 AM PST
A total of 12 people, including nine judges, have been federally charged for alleged ticket fixing at Philadelphia Traffic Court.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office, the defendants "participated in a widespread culture of giving breaks on traffic citations to friends, family, the politically-connected, and business associates."

Those charged are:

Michael J. Sullivan (sitting Judge, Traffic Court)
Michael Lowry (sitting Judge, Traffic Court)
Robert Mulgrew (former Judge, Traffic Court)
Willie Singletary (former Judge, Traffic Court)
Thomasine Tynes (former Judge, Traffic Court)
Mark A. Bruno (Chester County Magisterial District Judge)????
H. Warren Hogeland (Bucks County Senior Magisterial District Judge)
Kenneth Miller (Delaware County Senior District Judge)
Fortunato N. Perri, Sr. (Senior Judge, Traffic Court)
William Hird (former Director of Records, Traffic Court)
Henry P. Alfano (local businessman)
Robert Moy (local businessman)

The U.S Attorney's office, citing an indictment, said Philadelphia ward leaders, local politicians and associates of the Democratic City Committee regularly contacted defendants seeking preferential treatment on specific tickets.?

Additionally, according to the indictment, the defendants were regularly contacted by family, friends and associates seeking a "break" on tickets.? These defendants accepted these requests and either gave the preferential treatment directly or communicated the request to another judge to whom the case was assigned, investigators said.

? The U.S. Attorney said tickets were "fixed" by either being dismissed, finding the ticket holder "not guilty," or finding the ticket holder guilty of a lesser offense.? In many cases, investigators said, the ticket holder did not even appear in Traffic Court, yet their ticket was "fixed."?

"As a result, these ticketholders paid lesser or no fines and costs, and evaded the assessment of "points" on their driver's record.? This widespread "ticket-fixing" defrauded both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia of funds, and allowed potentially unsafe drivers to remain on the roads," U.S. Attorney's office said in the statement.

The defendants allegedly used their personal assistants and courtroom staff to communicate requests to "fix tickets" to other judges.? The indictment further alleges that the conspiracy also involved a cover-up which consisted of shredding paperwork, speaking in code, and trusting only certain individuals to carry out the fraud scheme.

Many of those names will be familiar to Action News viewers.

Willie Singletary was removed from the bench in early 2012 over videotaped remarks that ended up on YouTube. In the video, Singletary could be seen suggesting campaign donors would find a "hook-up" in his court.

Then, in December 2012, Singletary was found to have "engaged in judicial misconduct" by the the Court of Judicial Discipline over an incident in which he allegedly showed a female court clerk cell phone photos of his genitals.

Robert Mulgrew, meanwhile, was previously charged with misusing more than $800,000 in Department of Community and Economic Development grants.

Federal prosecutors say Mulgrew and aide Lorraine Dispaldo each signed grant applications for a pair of community organizations that were used to funnel the ill-gotten money to friends, family and associates. Mulgrew's wife is also charged with filing false tax returns.

In December, 2011, Michael Sullivan was removed from the bench and replaced with a Common Pleas Court judge for alleged ticket-fixing.


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