Ex-Traffic Court judge's fraud sentencing to be delayed, for now

Posted: February 07, 2014

FORMER TRAFFIC Court Judge Robert Mulgrew wants his sentencing hearing postponed in a fraud case involving a South Philly nonprofit he helped run.

He contends it may adversely affect his upcoming trial in an alleged ticket-fixing scandal.

At a hearing in federal court yesterday, his lawyer, Angie Halim, told U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II that if Mulgrew testifies at his sentencing hearing, he could risk saying something that could be used against him in the upcoming federal trial of former Traffic Court judges in the ticket-fixing case, in which he is also a defendant.

Mulgrew, 56, was scheduled for sentencing Monday in relation to his ripping off the nonprofit Friends of Dickinson Square of state grant money. He was vice president of the group.

On the second day of his and his wife's trial in September, he pleaded guilty to one count each of mail fraud and of filing a false personal tax return in exchange for all charges being dropped against his wife, Elizabeth, 56. The government also dropped 36 other counts against him. His wife faced charges relating to filing false tax returns, not fraud.

He is the bigger fish.

Mulgrew, of South Philadelphia's Pennsport section, became a Traffic Court judge in January 2008, thanks in part to campaign contributions from Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, headed by John Dougherty. He previously had worked with Local 98.

Before that, he had worked for former state Sen. Vincent Fumo, who then fired him in 2002.

Mulgrew was suspended as a Traffic Court judge after his indictment in 2012 in the nonprofit-fraud case. In January 2013, he was charged along with others in the alleged ticket-fixing scandal.

On May 19, Mulgrew, five other former Traffic Court judges and two businessmen are scheduled to face trial in the ticket-fixing scandal. Three other former judges and the court's former director of records already have pleaded guilty in the case.

The ticket-fixing scandal led to Traffic Court being abolished last year. Its duties now are handled by Philadelphia Municipal Court's Traffic Division.

Halim yesterday admitted to Jones that she was speculating as to whether any testimony Mulgrew may give at his sentencing hearing in the nonprofit-fraud case would actually impact his Traffic Court trial, but she said there could be "spillover" effects.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray told the judge that the sentencing hearing and the Traffic Court trial are unrelated.

Halim also told the judge that both sides have not been able to reach agreement as to the amount of fraud and tax loss incurred by Mulgrew.

The judge said Mulgrew's sentencing will not take place Monday, but he did not know yet if he would postpone it until after the Traffic Court trial. He asked both attorneys to submit to him by next Friday memos for or against postponing the sentencing until after the trial.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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