In federal court, it's all in the family

Posted: July 03, 2014

ANGELO HARMON was a compelling witness yesterday in the ongoing federal corruption-and-fraud trial of alleged ticket-fixing by Philadelphia Traffic Court judges.

Maybe it was his demeanor, his defiant tone of voice, as he testified under immunity about his relationship with his cousin, former Traffic Court Judge Willie Singletary.

Harmon, a witness for the prosecution, testified that he never asked for preferential treatment by his cousin when traffic tickets came before him.

"Would you want preferential treatment?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek.

"Of course," said Harmon. "He's my cousin."

Now in its third month, the case is being molded by Wzorek and Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Wolf as one of crimes "of intent."

Prosecutors are trying to convince a jury that six former judges abused "consideration" - the fixing of tickets for friends, family members, campaign contributors or anyone with a personal or political common interest.

As a gift to his sons, Harmon testified, he bought a couple of dirt bikes more than four years ago. Soon after, the boys racked up citations for driving the bikes in the street and running red lights. Harmon said that he paid $840 to eventually get the bikes out of impoundment, but that Singletary found him not guilty on all counts.

"He never asked you for a dime, a favor, nothing - did he?" asked defense attorney William J. Brennan, on cross-examination.

"No," said Harmon.

Wzorek fired back, "But your sons, they were guilty, yes?"

"Yes," said Harmon.

"But - they were found not guilty, yes?"

"Yes."

Harmon described how he, Singletary and several family members comprised a motorcycle club called "The Family" several years back.

Harmon said that Singletary, an ordained minister, had prayed over the group and often acted as minister of the club, offering eulogies at funerals and "the blessing of the bikes" before big rides.

The jury watched a three-minute video showing Singletary standing on a podium in 2007 before a crowd of motorcycle enthusiasts as he announces he is running for judge and asks for support. He is heard praying for safety. He also prays for his candidacy, and at the end of the prayer he reminds everyone:

"Y'all gonna need my hookup, right? I gotta raise $15,000 by Friday." The crowd laughs and applauds.

The case continues Tuesday with the government expected to wrap up its case before U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel.


On Twitter: @RuffTuffDH

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