Jon Campisi Feb. 14, 2014, 8:34am


The federal judge overseeing the fraud case against a former Philadelphia

Traffic Court judge has OK’d pushing back the disgraced jurist’s sentencing hearing.

The disgraced ex-jurist, who pleaded guilty to fraud and tax charges in connection with his using money that was supposed to go to two nonprofits for personal expenditures, argued that if he testified at his sentencing hearing, which was originally scheduled to take place last week, he could risk incriminating himself in another federal case.

Mulgrew was one of a handful of Philadelphia Traffic Court judges charged in connection with a so-called “ticket fixing” scheme in which prosecutors alleged judges improperly tossed motor vehicle citations for friends, relatives and the politically connected.

Mulgrew was suspended after he was indicted in a separate case, one in which federal authorities claimed that he, his wife, and a legislative aide to a state lawmaker schemed to defraud the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, using thousands of dollars in grant money that was designated for neighborhood revitalization efforts for personal enrichment.

Much of that money was supposed to go toward the Friends of Dickson Square, a South Philadelphia nonprofit organization.

Mulgrew, who had been suspended without pay following the indictment, likely would not have a job to return to post-prison, since lawmakers voted to abolish Philadelphia Traffic Court following the ticket fixing scandal.

Traffic cases are now heard at Philadelphia Municipal Court.

On Feb. 6, Mulgrew’s lawyers argued in federal court that his sentencing hearing for the fraud case, to which he had previously pleaded guilty, should be pushed back because if he testified during the hearing, he could risk saying something that could possibly be used against him during the upcoming ticket fixing trial, in which he is also a defendant.

Trial in the ticket fixing scandal is slated to commence on May 19, court records show.

On Jan. 29, Mulgrew’s attorney, Angela Halim, filed a motion to continue the sentencing in the fraud case, writing that her client has the right to be heard by the court at his sentencing hearing and that he has the right to testify on his own behalf.

“However, because he is facing a pending trial in another matter, Mr. Mulgrew is in the precarious position of deciding whether to waive his constitutional rights – specifically, his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination ­– in order to present testimony for the purposes of sentencing in the instant matter or to preserve his right and lose the opportunity to present testimony that may be favorable to him,” Halim wrote.

On Feb. 12, U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones filed an order granting Mulgrew’s request for a continuance.

However, Jones also wrote that the parties would have until Feb. 17 to submit briefing on the issue of continuing the sentencing in the fraud case until after the trial in the ticket fixing case, or sometime before that trial takes place.

More News