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It was the scandal that ended the Philadelphia Traffic Court. Two sitting, three former, and one senior Traffic Court judges, along with a Traffic Court administrator and two businessmen, were indicted in 2013 for their alleged roles in a ticket-fixing ring.
This week, two of those judges were sentenced: ex-Judges Thomasine Tynes and Robert Mulgrew each received prison sentences for offering perjured testimony about their roles in the conspiracy. According to Mulgrew's attorney, the ticket fixing scheme was a decades-long practice that predated all of the defendants, but it is likely no more -- the Traffic Court was disbanded in favor of a new program integrated with the Municipal Court.
Retired Judge Tynes' attorney was frank: "We got lucky at trial. The evidence was overwhelming that those guys were fixing tickets from day 1."
And yet, he pled for a sentence without incarceration, reports the Philadelphia Daily News. He pointed out that Tynes had assisted the investigation, that she was an older woman with health problems, and that she overcame abuse to become the first female, African-American president judge of the Traffic Court.
U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Stengal wasn't willing to show that much mercy: "I think a sentence of nonconfinement would really undermine the sense of deterrence."
In the end, he sentenced her to two years in federal prison, but did allow her to delay her sentence for a few months in order to allow her to continue cooperating in other investigations.
Mulgrew wasn't so lucky. Though his sentence in this case was only eighteen months, it was tacked on to another sentence for skimming from park improvement funds, which adds up to around four years in prison, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The mitigating factors argued by his attorney included his heavy involvement in the community, from cleaning up vacant lots to coaching youth sports. He had the support of multiple city councilmen.
Two More to Go
Mulgrew and Tynes were two of four judges who were convicted. According to the Inquirer, the other two, judges Michael Lowry and Willie Singletary are scheduled to be sentenced next year.
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