Attorney draws tears, sympathy for client during closing

Posted: July 20, 2014

COMPARING the now-defunct Philadelphia Traffic Court to the minor leagues in baseball, defense lawyer Lou Busico hit what might be a home run yesterday during his closing argument in the federal corruption trial of six former judges and a Chinatown businessman.

"Sorry guys, but this is like the minor leagues of the judiciary," he said. "This is like the sandlot of the judiciary."

Busico represents Thomasine Tynes, the retired president judge of Philadelphia Traffic Court. Tynes is charged with mail and wire fraud in what the government calls a widespread conspiracy of "ticket-fixing" that plagued the court from 2008 to 2011.

Federal prosecutors contend that the six former traffic court judges on trial in federal court either broadly dismissed traffic tickets or rendered "not guilty" verdicts for socially and politically connected people, thus depriving the government of untold sums in fines and fees.

"Did this 71-year-old woman intend to steal from the city and the state, or did she just try to help somebody?" asked Busico.

"I ask you, remove the stain the government has put on her life," his voice boomed. Tynes and a few jurors wiped away tears.

Busico and defense lawyers for three other former judges offered closing arguments yesterday in the eighth week of the trial, set to wrap up next week.

Bill DeStefano, a lawyer for defendant Michael Lowry, suggested to the jury that the FBI investigation into the alleged ticket-fixing was predicated on little-to-no evidence, "not a level playing field" and "result-oriented."

"He lost his job. He's a good man. Let him go home," he said.

Angie Halim, a lawyer for defendant Robert Mulgrew, said her client would preside over anywhere from 100 to 200 cases a day in Traffic Court.

"Mr. Mulgrew did the best that he could in an imperfect system," she said. "It was keeping an eye out, but it wasn't a fix. These folks, as they got elected, stepped into somebody else's maelstrom."

William McSwain represents Magisterial District Judge Mark Bruno, from Chester County, who sat on the bench at Traffic Court only on a substitute basis a handful of times a year. He painted the entire case as a hodgepodge of government "guesses, assumptions and speculations."

"The government assumes the worst about these tickets. They're on a crusade against Traffic Court," he said, "and it's off the charts."

Closing arguments from Paul Hetznecker, lawyer for Robert Moy, the seventh and final defendant in the case, are scheduled for Monday morning.

Moy owns the Chinatown business Number One Translations, which guaranteed a surefire way to get no points or fewer points on the driver's licenses of ticket holders. He is accused of being in cahoots with one or more of the judges on trial. Lawyers for former Traffic Court judges Willie Singletary and Michael Sullivan gave their closings earlier in the week.

" @RuffTuffDH

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