Philly Traffic Court corruption trial gets split verdict

 Judge Willie Singletary (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Judge Willie Singletary (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

After a two month long trial, there’s an mixed verdict in corruption prosecution of Philadelphia Traffic Court judges.

Judges Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew Thomasine Tynes and Willie Singletary were convicted of perjury or lying to federal investigators, but not the main fraud and conspiracy charges in the case.

“For myself and my codefendants we’re relieved because it was never our intent to hurt anybody or do anything wrong,” said Singletary, thankful the two-year prosecution is over.  

They were accused of downgrading or dismissing tickets when business leaders and politicians asked for “consideration.”  Attorneys for the former judges say the breaks they gave in traffic court were nothing more than exercising judicial discretion, not fraud.

“Nobody had any intent to defraud, nobody had the intent to cheat the commonwealth or the city out of any money,” said Bill McSwain, lawyer for Judge Mark Bruno of Chester County who was found not guilty on all charges.  He said Bruno would apply to return to the bench.

Court translator Robert Moy and Judge Michael Sullivan also were cleared of all charges.

“It wasn’t the verdict that we hoped for, but we obviously accept the jury’s verdict in this case,” said federal prosecutor Anthony Wzorek. “It’s still a sad day in Philadelphia when three former judges are found guilty of perjuring themselves in front of a grand jury and one is found guilty to lying to the FBI in an investigation.”

Judge Mulgrew paused for a second to speak with reporters after being convicted of the lesser charge. “They rejected the ticket fixing because it wasn’t there, how could I give special favors if I didn’t fix anything, over and done, thank you,” he said.

“Look everybody’s human and there are always three sides to a story, you can interpret anything anyway you want on any given day,” said  Louis Busico, lawyer for Judge Tynes. “In terms of what the case truly was about, fixing tickets, that never happened.”

Singletary’s attorney William Brennan says the he believes the federal prosecutors went too far.

“If your kid drops your favorite vase and it breaks you don’t beat him with a baseball bat,” Brennan said. “You may smack his finger you may lecture him but the punishment should fit the crime, but the proesecution here really I think when they found out money wasn’t changing hands to continue with this I think it was an overreach.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal