Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Jul 23, 2014 06:15 pm CDT
After a two-month trial and a day-and-a-half of deliberation, a former Philadelphia traffic court judge and a suburban magistrate were acquitted Wednesday by a federal jury in a case concerning what prosecutors had portrayed as a pervasive ticket-fixing conspiracy.
Another four former traffic court judges were convicted on only a single count of the multiple charges they had faced, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Found innocent were former Philadelphia judge Michael Sullivan and Chester County District Judge Mark A. Bruno, who testified in his own defense that he had cut off a cashier seeking help with a friend’s ticket when he first began substituting in Philadelphia traffic court and “never asked for a fix” himself concerning any ticket, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported earlier this month.
Four other former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges got mixed verdicts. Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Thomasine Tynes and Willy Singletary were convicted of perjury or making false statements to federal investigators, but acquitted on charges of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud.
Sullivan had faced conspiracy, mail and wire fraud charges but was found not guilty.
Bruno was acquitted of conspiracy.
At issue in the case was whether favors swapped between judges and portrayed by federal prosecutors as “consideration” actually fell within the boundaries of permitted judicial discretion. Defense lawyers said their clients had adjudicated traffic matters on their merits, even if they may sometimes have discussed cases with parties outside of court or failed to recuse themselves from hearing matters involving relatives or friends.
Three senior judges took pleas prior to trial. They are: H. Warren Hogeland, Kenneth Miller and Fortunato N. Perri Sr. Their cases are discussed in a Philadelphia Inquirer article published in January 2014.
A January 2013 press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania lists the defendants and details the case the government tried to make against them.
ABAJournal.com: “Traffic ticket-fixing charges levied against ‘the whole court’ in Philadelphia”
ABAJournal.com: “Defendant judges say ticket-fix prosecution should be dismissed because no money changed hands”
Philadelphia Business Journal: “Fourth defendant pleads guilty in ticket fixing scheme”
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Guilty of trading seafood and porn with Traffic Court judge”