"If your friends came to you for help, what would you do?" he asked.
Moy, dressed in a tie and sweater, said that he had known the Traffic Court judges for years and that federal investigators were overtly "gung ho," all wanting to become the next U.S. attorney.
"People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones," he said. "I didn't do anything."
The federal indictment says otherwise.
Nine current or former judges were among those charged with conspiracy and fraud after a three-year FBI inquiry. The 77-count indictment outlined how judges or their aides used code words to create two court systems: one in which typical citizens paid fines, another where the connected had cases dismissed.
The indictment cites no evidence that judges took cash, but it said they accepted requests for preferential treatment because of political, business, or social relationships, or for some type of personal benefit.
Authorities point to eight alleged instances in which people took their tickets to Moy, paid $100 to $300, and received preferential treatment in court. Moy achieved this mainly through his connections to Judges Thomasine Tynes and Willie Singletary, both of whom were indicted, the government said.
Moy was close to Singletary and referred to Tynes as "Mom," federal documents said, adding:
"Moy, at times, was able to promise his customers that they would not receive any 'points' on their driving records."
He has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, 12 counts of wire fraud, seven counts of mail fraud, and aiding and abetting.
In Chinatown, the family name Moy ranks among the oldest, held by some of the first families to immigrate here decades ago from what was then Canton, now Guangdong, province.
"He's very well-known in Chinatown," said John Chin, executive director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp.
Paul Hetznecker, Moy's attorney, said his client has run a successful Chinatown business for more than 25 years.
"He is a well-respected community leader who has been involved for a long time in nonprofit and community work and plans to vigorously defend the charges," Hetznecker said.
Moy has "been a longtime translator and interpreter for the community," Hetznecker said. Born in Hong Kong, he attended Central High School and lives in Chinatown with his wife and mother, the lawyer said.
On Thursday, Moy was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, who asked if he understood the charges. Moy, dressed in a white short-sleeved shirt, coughing and shivering, said he had no chance to read the indictment before being arrested.
"6:15 in the morning, banging on the door," he told the court. "My 94-year-old mother almost had a heart attack."
The indictment said Moy manipulated the scheduling of his customers' trials by filing requests for continuances, steering trials toward Tynes and Singletary to secure favorable outcomes. Moy allegedly regularly informed Tynes and Singletary which of his customers were to appear before them, the advance notice further enabling the fixing of tickets.
Number One Translation advertised that it provided all types of translation services and also handled citizenship applications. The firm said it could help people quickly regain a car that had been towed or impounded.
One person, identified as "J. Ji" in the indictment, twice went to Moy for help, seeking relief from tickets incurred in May and July 2011. An Inquirer review of a ticket database identified J. Ji as Jian Kang Jiang of Philadelphia, who authorities say paid Moy a total of $400 and was found not guilty in both cases.
Efforts to locate and contact Jiang were unsuccessful.
One of the eight cases Moy is alleged to have helped fix was Citation X03644955, issued March 7, 2011, by a Philadelphia police officer to "G.L.," who records show is Gordon Li of Philadelphia. The ticket, for drifting between lanes while looking down at a cellphone, carried a fine and costs of $127.50. If found guilty, Li faced three points on his driving record.
Li's parents took the ticket to Moy's company and paid between $100 and $200 in cash. After that, Number One Translations told Li he did not have to appear in Traffic Court, the indictment said.
On March 15, Moy, through his company, mailed to court the portion of Li's citation that stated a plea - not guilty. On May 6, 2011, a request for continuance was made that contained Li's forged signature, the indictment said. The request fraudulently stated that Li had a doctor's appointment.
Tynes approved the request. On July 29, another request for continuance, again containing Li's forged signature, was made to the court, saying Li could not appear because he could not take time from work. That request was approved by Singletary.
On Aug. 19, a third request for continuance, again with Li's forged signature, stated that his "translator will be available on Sept. 14 at night court." That request was approved by Singletary.
On Sept. 16, Moy sent Tynes a note informing her of the trial date, courtroom, and presiding judge for Li's citation. On Sept. 21, Tynes found Li not guilty.
Li could not be reached for comment.
Contact Jeff Gammage
at 215-854-2415, email@example.com,
or on Twitter @JeffGammage.
Staff writers Dylan Purcell
and Allison Steele contributed to this article.