Tynes gets 24 months in traffic court case

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     This undated photo provided by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office shows Thomasine Tynes, the former top judge of Philadelphia traffic court. (Philadelphia District Attorney's Office/AP Photo)

    This undated photo provided by the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office shows Thomasine Tynes, the former top judge of Philadelphia traffic court. (Philadelphia District Attorney's Office/AP Photo)

    In the continuing fallout from the corruption-fueled implosion of Philadelphia Traffic Court, a federal judge has sentenced former President Judge Thomasine Tynes to 24 months in prison for lying to a grand jury about her role in dispensing favors on the bench.

    “I didn’t invent the system at traffic court,” a sobbing Tynes said to U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel at the hearing, “I went along to get along … I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

    The punishment for Tynes, which also includes a $5,000 fine, follows an 18-month sentence handed to former judge Robert Mulgrew Wednesday for a similar offense.

    You may remember that nine judges were indicted in a ticket-fixing case in January 2013, and that this summer a jury convicted four who had not yet pleaded guilty of lying to authorities in the course of the investigation.

    The jury declined to convict them of the more serious crime of criminal conspiracy since the judges hadn’t taken bribes in return for favorable treatment on tickets. The judges were giving preferential treatment to politically connected defendants and their friends.

    The Pennsylvania court system has since abolished Philadelphia Traffic Court, sending those cases to Municipal Court for adjudication.

    Tynes has also agreed to plead guilty in a separate state corruption case, stemming from a controversial sting operation in which a confidential informant posed as a lobbyist and recorded several public officials accepting money and, in Tynes’ case, a $2,000 silver bracelet.

    Mark Gilson, a prosecutor for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office testified in court today that Tynes had agreed to plead guilty in the sting investigation and was cooperating in that state grand jury probe.

    Federal prosecutors objected to Tynes’ efforts seeking leniency on her federal sentence for cooperating in the state case, questioning its value.

    In assessing Tynes’ cooperation, Gilson said, “Did it give us anybody else? No. Does it corroborate (other evidence)? Is it helpful? Yeah.” 

    Gilson said under Tynes plea agreement, any sentence she gets from her guilty plea in the sting case will be served concurrently with her federal sentence, meaning she will not get any additional time behind bars.

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