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Traffic Tickets

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NEWS
March 18, 1989 | By Connie O'Kane, Special to The Inquirer
Procedures in Burlington County traffic courts must return to normal while legal issues concerning tickets are decided, the state Supreme Court ordered yesterday. The court temporarily rescinded a decision by Burlington County Superior Court Judge Martin L. Haines, who recently ruled that many traffic tickets are issued illegally. Haines said the tickets are not examined by a neutral third party to determine whether the police officer had probable cause or sufficient reason to file the charge.
NEWS
April 23, 1998 | By Stephanie A. Stanley, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
Car thefts, shoplifting and robberies might have gone up in the last decade, but don't fret. There is at least one number headed down - traffic tickets. In 1988, township police wrote 15,916 citations for moving violations. Since then, the number has been steadily dropping. Last year it was only 9,465, down 41 percent, according to the Police Department's 1997 annual report. "Maybe there aren't as many speeders," guessed David Dellaporta of Radnor, as he waited for his Volvo at the White Glove car wash in Bryn Mawr.
NEWS
July 12, 1987 | By Vanessa Herron, Inquirer Staff Writer
It started small, with a $5 parking ticket. But it ended big, with a confrontation with a district justice and decisions by the Downingtown Borough Council to withdraw the ticket and reconsider its policy on notifying offenders. At the center of this ticketing tempest is Heather Bruno of the 300 block of Washington Avenue. During Wednesday night's Borough Council meeting, she said she had been ordered to pay $44 in fines and court costs for failing to pay a $5 parking ticket in May. Bruno wasn't denying that her meter had expired while she shopped on Lancaster Avenue, but she said she never saw or heard about the ticket until she received the citation from the office of Downingtown District Justice Burtis C. Coxe.
NEWS
February 19, 1992 | By L. Stuart Ditzen, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
"Embarrassing" is the way Philadelphia Traffic Court President Judge Charles H. Cuffeld put it. Philadelphians, the judge said yesterday, are still ignoring their traffic tickets. Just as they were doing last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. Since becoming president judge in December, Cuffeld, like his predecessor, Traffic Court Judge George Twardy, has vowed to get tough on scofflaws. But yesterday, Cuffeld decided to try something nice as well.
NEWS
September 24, 2005
Is there a city in America other than Philadelphia where a person can get convicted and sentenced for fixing traffic tickets and still keep his taxpayer-funded job? Charles "C.P. " Mirarchi 3d was caught on FBI surveillance tapes in 2002, playing the bagman for former city Bureau of Administrative Adjudication director Joseph F. Hoffman Jr. Hoffman was receiving payoffs from taxicab company owner Michael Etemad, who wanted his cab fleet's $47,000 in parking tickets wiped off the books.
NEWS
April 25, 1989 | By Daniel LeDuc, Inquirer Trenton Bureau
Police officers in New Jersey may continue to write their speeding tickets, parking tickets and other traffic citations as they always have, the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday. The justices affirmed the current way traffic tickets are issued and overturned a ruling last month by Superior Court Judge Martin L. Haines of Burlington County that the way many tickets are filed is illegal. Changing the way traffic tickets are filed would have meant a major change in the way municipal courts in New Jersey do business and required millions of dollars for additional court personnel.
NEWS
March 15, 1989 | By Connie O'Kane, Special to The Inquirer
A Burlington County judge yesterday ordered that some prosecutions of routine traffic cases in the county be halted until an appellate court can decide whether the tickets were issued legally. The ruling by Superior Court Judge Martin L. Haines follows a recent opinion in which he said that a judge or court clerk must examine and sign a copy of a traffic ticket within 30 days after it is issued. If the copy is not examined by a neutral, impartial authority, police and prosecutors cannot prove there was probable cause to issue the ticket in the first place, Haines said in his decision.
NEWS
June 19, 1987 | By JIM SMITH, Daily News Staff Writer
The manager of the clothing workers union in Philadelphia told a jury yesterday that he and other union officials were "taking care of" members' traffic tickets while buying clothes for two Traffic Court judges and other city officials. "If a member had a ticket, he would bring it in (to the union)," said John Fox, manager of the Philadelphia Joint Board, Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union. At first, said Fox, the tickets were "taken care of" by Frank Pepe, the union's secretary-treasurer and a Democratic Party committeeman who denied in prior testimony having anything to do with fixing traffic tickets.
NEWS
February 24, 2012
For careless Philadelphia motorists, 2011 was a good year to yak on a cellphone, roll through a stop sign, run a red light, or save a few bucks by forgoing insurance or annual vehicle inspection fees. They probably got away with it more often, due to the reported one-third drop in tickets issued last year for moving violations and vehicle-related infractions by the Police Department. In addition to drivers' logging fewer miles amid the economic downturn - and red-light cameras at 19 busy intersections possibly having a positive impact on driving habits across the city - it's also clear from the statistics that police simply weren't citing some motorists when they witnessed a traffic violation.
NEWS
February 20, 2007 | By Jan Hefler and Dwight Ott INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
T. Milton Street Sr., who last week announced his candidacy for mayor of Philadelphia, was handcuffed and jailed for five hours yesterday on charges that he ignored traffic tickets in two South Jersey towns. Street, 67, who is facing trial on federal corruption and tax evasion charges, said he was "totally shocked" by yesterday's events, which began when a Moorestown patrolman who knew that his township had a warrant for Street's arrest recognized the former Pennsylvania state representative and hot dog vendor buying a newspaper in a 7-Eleven store.
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NEWS
January 16, 2015 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
A FEDERAL JUDGE yesterday sentenced a former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge, convicted of perjury in a ticket-fixing case, to a year and eight months in prison. Michael Lowry, 59, of Mayfair, and three other judges who served on Traffic Court were convicted by a federal jury in July of lying to a grand jury or to the FBI. All four defendants and three others were acquitted of conspiracy, mail- and wire-fraud charges. The sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel to Lowry was at the high end of his 15- to 21-month advisory-sentencing-guideline range.
NEWS
December 24, 2014 | BY VINNY VELLA, Daily News Staff Writer vellav@phillynews.com, 215-854-2513
THE STATE'S Judicial Conduct Board filed ethics charges yesterday against a Philadelphia Traffic Court judge embroiled in an alleged ticket-fixing scam. Although a federal jury acquitted Michael J. Sullivan of conspiracy and fraud charges in July, the board accuses him of judicial misconduct that undermines "both public confidence in the judiciary and its reputation," according to a complaint filed yesterday. During the federal trial, prosecutors alleged that from 2008 to 2011, the six former Traffic Court judges, including Sullivan, 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.
NEWS
December 23, 2014 | Inquirer Editorial Board
It may be time to reassess your priorities when a failure to take care of supposedly less important issues is affecting your primary goal. Take the "broken windows" approach to policing, which calls for minor crimes such as littering or disturbing the peace to be swiftly and appropriately punished, sending the message that no degree of criminality will be tolerated. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the way traffic violations have been handled in Philadelphia. Consequently, too many dangerous drivers who at least should have had their licenses taken away are still on the road, and other people have died as a result.
NEWS
December 17, 2014 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
A FEDERAL JUDGE yesterday sentenced a former court administrator of Philadelphia Traffic Court, who had pleaded guilty in the ticket-fixing scandal, to two years in prison. William Hird, 69, of Bridesburg, "played a central role" in the long-running, pervasive ticket-fixing scheme, U.S. District Judge Robert Kelly said. "Politicians, friends, ward leaders approached him for preferential treatment," Kelly said. "As far as we can tell, he said 'no' to none of them. He passed on those requests to judges.
NEWS
December 17, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
Throughout his nearly two decades at Philadelphia Traffic Court, William Hird rarely said no. Not to the Democratic ward leaders and local politicians who came to him seeking help with traffic tickets. Not to the court's judges, who designated him their point man for handling requests for special consideration. And not to prosecutors, who offered him a deal to plead guilty this year instead of fighting federal charges stemming from that ticket-fixing scheme. And for that, the Traffic Court's 69-year-old retired director of records received little in return.
NEWS
November 28, 2014 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
FEDERAL prosecutors are seeking substantial prison terms for four former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges convicted by a jury of lying, following a lengthy trial on "ticket-fixing" allegations. In sentencing memos filed Wednesday for Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary and Thomasine Tynes, prosecutors say they will ask for prison sentences of a year or more above sentencing guideline ranges. A jury in July acquitted the four of fraud charges, but convicted them of perjury before a grand jury or making false statements to the FBI. Prosecutors contend that by convicting the four of lying, the jury found that the judges "gave preferential treatment to [ticket-holders]
NEWS
July 22, 2014 | By Jeremy Roebuck, Inquirer Staff Writer
The fate of five former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges accused in a ticket-fixing conspiracy now lies in the hands of a federal jury. The panel began deliberating the case against Michael J. Sullivan, Michael Lowry, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary, and Thomasine Tynes just after 3 p.m. Monday and broke for the day after less than two hours of discussion. The deliberations came after a morning when prosecutors took one last opportunity to respond to two days of defense arguments attempting to tear down their case.
NEWS
July 20, 2014 | BY JENNY DeHUFF, Daily News Staff Writer dehuffj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5218
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.
NEWS
July 18, 2014 | BY JENNY DeHUFF, Daily News Staff Writer dehuffj@phillynews.com, 215-854-5218
AFTER MONTHS of presenting evidence and calling witnesses, the prosecution and defense recapped their cases yesterday during closing arguments in the federal corruption trial of six former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges and a Chinatown businessman. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Anthony Wzorek and Denise Wolf have painted the defendants as hack judges who lacked any moral compass as they wittingly wrote off traffic tickets for friends, family members or anyone connected in the city's vast political arena.
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