The chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered the temporary
suspension of a Philadelphia Traffic Court judge who was indicted by federal authorities on fraud charges.
A First Judicial District spokesman told local media that Chief Justice Ronald Castille sent a letter to the Traffic Court’s administrative judge ordering the jurist to temporarily remove Traffic Court Judge Robert Mulgrew from the bench “until further notice.”
Mulgrew, his wife, Elizabeth, and Lorraine Dispaldo, a legislative aide to state Rep. William Keller, D-Phila., were all arrested by FBI agents Sept. 13 after a federal indictment against the trio was unsealed charging them with scheming to defraud the Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development and filing false tax returns.
The three are accused of using thousands of dollars in community development grant money for personal purchases.
Also on Sept. 14, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board filed a petition with the state’s Court of Judicial Discipline seeking to suspend Mulgrew, who has been a Traffic Court judge since 2008, without pay pending his criminal trial.
“The pending felony criminal charges against Judge Mulgrew undermine both public confidence in the judiciary and its reputation,” the petition states. “If Judge Mulgrew is permitted continue participating in cases before the Philadelphia Traffic Court, the public’s confidence in the judiciary and the judiciary’s reputation will continue to erode.”
The grand jury indictment contains various counts of mail fraud, tax evasion and filing false income tax returns.