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Judge in Traffic Court case says evidence of ticket-fixing was strong

Four months ago, there was some question mark over the divided verdict delivered by a jury in the ticket-fixing federal case filed versus five of the Traffic Judges at Philly Court.

But on a released by presiding judge of the case last Friday was that there was no question left as to his beliefs on what was proven by prosecutors in court.

Lawrence F. Stengel, a U.S. District Judge stated that the evidence at the trial clearly demonstrated that the defendants were affected by ‘extrajudicial communications’ when decisions on select tickets were reached. In short, they and their colleagues were in fixing tickets.

The opinion of Stengel was an answer to many motions regarding new trials that the four judges will file after their jury conviction of perjury last July or their lying to the FBI, although they were acquitted on the weightier counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud. All four judges will be sentenced next month.

Michael Sullivan who was the 5th judge never spoke with any FBI agents nor testified before a grand jury; consequently, he is not facing perjury charges.

Prosecutors, during the two-month trial, described Philly’s Traffic Court as a bulwark of cronyism, where friends, family members, and political allies request consideration from judges’ chambers regularly that led to dismissals of traffic citations.

But defense counsel for the following judges: (1) Michael Lowry; (2) Robert Mulgrew; (3) Willie Singletary; and (4) Thomasine Tynes, were puzzled by the verdict why their clients were considered guilty of perjury of a criminal plot that jurors finally concluded that the judges had not participated in.

Stengel said there was no cause for confusion as the argument assumed that the jury acquitted them because the jury did not believe that they were engaged in the consideration process. He added that the jury might have discovered that the proof from the proof from the government was credible, but that they were short of the needed intent to take out the city and commonwealth of money or property.

He considered the arguments given by former Traffic Court judges as bald and lacking in support.

Lowry told the grand jury that he treated everyone in his court fairly but Strengel stated he did not understand what it implied. The terms used by the prosecutors were simple, direct, and easily understood by all with a basic working knowledge of the English language as these terms would have been evident to anyone with a high school education.

Since federal investigators found no evidence of bribes changing hands among the judges, it was difficult build a case around honest-services fraud as often used by the federal charge in public corruption cases. They pursued instead the extraordinary theory due to fines connected to dismissal unpaid tickets, the judges committed mail and wire fraud that was an intentional effort to divest the city and state of funds.

According to juror Kathryn Lund, age 47, from Delaware; it appeared that charges did not quite fit and the idea that they were intentionally cheating the government did seem to be their intent. However, she said that they tried going around the law to hit what was going on.

Source: Philly Com

 

 

 

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