More alleged 'ticket-fixing' in federal trial of ex-Traffic Court judges

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Yesterday's testimony focused on a 2010 hearing in front of then-Traffic Court Judge Michael Lowry.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Yesterday's testimony focused on a 2010 hearing in front of then-Traffic Court Judge Michael Lowry.
Posted: June 18, 2014

AFTER A SIX-DAY break, the federal trial of six former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges and a Chinatown businessman accused of conspiring in a ticket-fixing scheme resumed yesterday.

The morning's testimony centered on a ticket that was issued on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia to Diandra Salvatore, of Blackwood, Camden County.

Salvatore was issued a ticket by a state trooper on Aug. 26, 2010, for allegedly speeding - driving 85 mph in a 55-mph zone. The ticket carried a fine of $247.

Salvatore appeared at a hearing before then-Traffic Court Judge Michael Lowry on Nov. 30, 2010.

She was found guilty of a lesser offense by Lowry, FBI Special Agent Jason Blake testified yesterday.

Lowry amended her ticket to indicate she was driving 5 mph over the speed limit, reduced her fine to $187 and gave her no points on her license.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Wolf yesterday played several government-wiretapped calls allegedly indicating that requests were made to give Salvatore favorable treatment on her ticket.

In one call, Salvatore's father had spoken to Henry "Eddie" Alfano, a Southwest Philadelphia businessman, about his daughter's ticket. Diandra Salvatore, 26, testified June 5 that Alfano was a friend of her family's. She said she told her father about her ticket, but did not know if her dad had called anyone about it.

Alfano, in turn, spoke to retired Traffic Court Judge Fortunato Perri Sr. about the ticket. Alfano and Perri have been longtime friends.

And Perri spoke to Billy Hird, then the Traffic Court's administrator, about the ticket.

Prosecutors allege that Hird asked Lowry's personal assistant, Kevin O'Donnell, to have Judge Lowry give "consideration" or special treatment to Diandra Salvatore on her ticket.

This ticket is one of about 50 that the feds are highlighting in their prosecution. They contend the tickets were "fixed" - or given special treatment - for ticket holders who were socially or politically connected to Traffic Court judges.

On trial are former Traffic Court judges Lowry, Michael J. Sullivan, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary and Thomasine Tynes, and Magisterial District Judge Mark A. Bruno, of West Chester, who sat on Traffic Court a few times a year. Chinatown businessman Robert Moy is also on trial. All are charged with conspiracy and fraud.

Lowry's attorney, Bill DeStefano, yesterday pointed out during his cross-examination of Blake that on Nov. 30, 2010, Lowry heard 12 cases of people who were issued tickets for speeding on I-95, including Salvatore's case. He asked Blake if he would be surprised to learn that none of them had received any points.

Blake said he would not be surprised, but said he was only concerned about Salvatore's ticket because it was one the feds allegedly had evidence on indicating a request for special treatment.


On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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