Federal prosecutors recently filed fraud charges against nine current and former judges of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, alleging that these officials reduced traffic violations for several well-connected drivers.
According to sources, the judges are accused of fixing traffic citations for what prosecutors call business, social or political associates. And in return? According to the charges, these judges received such perks as free car repairs or even free shipments of fresh seafood.
The 77-count indictment filed against the judges includes conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud charges. Prosecutors are alleging that they threw out tickets for such offenses as speeding and/or turned these tickets into lesser offenses. In other cases, the judges are accused of finding drivers not guilty despite the existence of incontrovertible evidence.
The complaint indicates that the alleged ticket-fixing scheme was rather lengthy. Specifically, drivers who wanted to have their tickets fixed would purportedly contact the defendants from July 2008 through September of 2011.
The penalties for these crimes can be rather severe, with all but one of the nine sitting or former judges facing a maximum sentence of more than 100 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines.
Interestingly, one of the judges is accused of fixing tickets referred to him by another defendant in the case, a Philadelphia businessman who owns an automobile salvage yard and two strip clubs. In exchange for fixing the tickets, the judge allegedly received free auto repairs, free tow services, free videos and free seafood.
The complaint also accuses one traffic court judge, who is also the owner of a bar, of allegedly telling defendants who needed their tickets fixed to leave them in a box behind the bar.
Stay tuned for updates on this fascinating case from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...
If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.
This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
The New York Times, "Philadelphia judges indicted in ticket case," Jon Hurdle, Jan. 31, 2013