Two weeks ago, we discussed how federal prosecutors had filed a multitude of criminal charges against nine sitting and former judges of the Philadelphia Traffic Court, alleging that these officials engaged in an intricate scheme to fix or reduce traffic violations for business, social or political associates.
According to the 77-count indictment, the judges allegedly threw out tickets for such offenses as speeding and/or turned these tickets into lesser offenses from July 2008 through September of 2011. In other cases, the judges are accused of finding certain defendants not guilty despite the existence of incontrovertible evidence or granting them continuances of trial dates such that they could "judge shop."
The nine judges are facing conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud charges. 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.
In recent developments, two of the judges agreed to plead guilty to their role in the traffic ticket fixing scheme just last week. Specifically, one of the judges, 76, pleaded guilty to mail fraud, while the other judge, 75, pleaded guilty to both mail fraud and conspiracy.
The two men -- whose sentencing date is set for May 24 -- agreed to cooperate fully with federal prosecutors, meaning they could potentially be called to testify at the criminal trial of their fellow defendants.
In the meantime, the seven remaining judges were released on their own recognizance after posting $20,000 bail, and forced to surrender both their passports and any firearms owned.
Their attorneys are eager to prove the charges against their clients are false.
"We're pleased that the federal government doesn't allege that my client took one dime from anyone and we're looking forward to mounting a vigorous defense," said one attorney.
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 Philadelphia Tribune, "Two judges plead guilty to ticket fixing," Larry Miller, Feb. 14, 2013
The New York Times, "Philadelphia judges indicted in ticket case," Jon Hurdle, Jan. 31, 2013