PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge has handed out the sentence of the last of three former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges convicted of committing perjury before a federal grand jury.
Michael Lowry, 59, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for lying to a grand jury in connection with a ticket fixing scheme at the now-defunct Philadelphia Traffic Court. Lowry was a sitting traffic court judge at the time.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Stengel ordered one year of supervised release and ordered Lowry to perform 100 hours of community service.
Lowry and co-defendants Robert Mulgrew and Thomasine Tynes were convicted at trial on July 23 of committing perjury before a federal grand jury. Three defendants were found not guilty of all charges, including judges Michael Sullivan and Mark A. Bruno, along with Robert Moy, a businessman who had been accused of sending requests for ticket leniency to judges Tynes and Sullivan.
According to the original indictment, Philadelphia ward leaders, local politicians and associates of the Democratic City Committee regularly contacted the defendants seeking preferential treatment on specific tickets. Additionally, defendants were regularly contacted by family, friends, and associates seeking a “break” on tickets, it is alleged.
The defendants were accused of accepting these requests and either gave the preferential treatment directly or communicated the request to another judge to whom the case was assigned.
Tickets were “fixed” by either being dismissed, finding the ticket holder “not guilty” or finding the ticket holder guilty of a lesser offense, court documents say.
In many alleged cases, the ticket-holder did not even appear in traffic court, yet his/her ticket was “fixed.” As a result, these ticket-holders paid lesser or no fines and costs and evaded the assessment of “points” on their driver’s records, it is alleged.
The FBI said that this “ticket-fixing” defrauded both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia of funds and allowed potentially unsafe drivers to remain on the roads.
The traffic court has since been disbanded by the state assembly and its tasks have been taken over by the Philadelphia Municipal Court.