Traffic Court Judges Charged in Widespread Ticket Fixing Scheme - New York News

Traffic Court Judges Charged in Widespread Ticket Fixing Scheme

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The front entrance of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Traffic Court is pictured. Several judges face charges in a ticket fixing scheme. The front entrance of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania Traffic Court is pictured. Several judges face charges in a ticket fixing scheme.

Hernetha McMillian was at Traffic Court early Thursday morning to make her bi-weekly payment on a traffic ticket just like thousands of other drivers.

"It's ridiculous. Every time I come here you gotta' go on a payment plan or they take your car," McMillan said.

But while Mcmillian was paying her ticket, traffic court judges were making their way to FBI headquarters early Thursday to surrender and face charges that they were part of a widespread ticket fixing scheme that became rampant at Philadelphia Traffic Court. All designed to help the politically connected, not drivers like McMillan.

"The government doesn't say my client, Judge Singletary, took one thin dime in exchange for what they call a ticket fixing," said defense attorney William Brennan, who represents Judge Willie Singeltary.

A 77-count indictment and three criminal informants charge the nine elected judges and three others, including towing mogul Henry "Eddie" Alfano, with taking part in a widespread culture of giving breaks to politically connected families and their friends.

"My God is able, said Singeltary.

Defense attorney Gregory Pagano said former court administrator William Herd was indicted "for essentially doing his job."

Among those indicted, former Judge Willie Singletary, Judge Michael Sullivan and former Judge Robert Mulgrew. The charges say Democratically connected politicians routinely got special treatment at traffic court where tickets were dismissed, the driver was found not guilty or the charges downgraded.

In some cases, the drivers didn't even show up for court. The indictment says in other cases some unsafe drivers were allowed back out on the roads.  

"It's wrong. If we gotta' pay, why can't they pay? These judges, they need to be off the bench," said driver Michael Golden as he paid for his ticket at court today. "They're abusing their power for whatever they're doing for them."

"It's hurtful to me because I'm a working parent, these tickets, those fines are outstanding," another driver said.

"Whoever did it, they need to be indicted because that's a lot of money that's being taken from me and my five children, thank you," McMillan added.

The FBI is also alleging an attempted cover up here. Three judges are charged with perjury before a federal grand jury. Two others are charged with lying to the FBI. Agents also say some defendants used code words and shredded documents to cover this all up.

The judges and other defendants were released on their own recognizance on $20,000 bail each. They all plead not guilty.

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