Another key player in the traffic court scandal out of Philadelphia has
pleaded guilty in connection with his role in the federal ticket-fixing probe.
William Hird, 68, who served as director of records at the now defunct Philadelphia Traffic Court pleaded guilty Monday to 18 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he was questioned about allegations of ticket-fixing at Traffic Court.
The guilty plea was announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Hird is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the fraud conspiracy that federal prosecutors contend involved frequent and pervasive ticket-fixing at the scandal-plagued Philadelphia Traffic Court, which was abolished last year following this scandal and others.
Numerous judges and administrators were accused of scrapping motor vehicle citations for friends, family members and the politically connected.
As part of the scheme, as alleged by the government, tickets were "fixed" by either being outright dismissed, or being reduce to lesser offenses.
As a result, those who had their tickets fixed paid lesser fines and costs, and evaded the assessment of points on their driving record.
The alleged widespread ticket-fixing scheme defrauded both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia of funds, and allowed “potentially unsafe drivers to remain on the roads,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated in a news release.
Hird, the former director of records at Philadelphia’s Traffic Court, faces a possible sentence of between 12 to 18 months in federal prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert F. Kelly has not yet set a sentencing date.
Former Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Fortunato Perri, Sr., who pleaded guilty this past March in connection with his role in the scheme, would receive the names of offenders, traffic citation numbers or the actual citations themselves in order to arrange the fixing of the ticket, the government announced, and would then convey that information to Hird, who, in turn, allegedly conveyed the request to the assigned judge or the judge’s staff.
“Hird was extremely loyal to Perri given that Perri helped Hird move up the ladder to a high-level administrator at Traffic Court,” reads a statement from the office of U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger. “Recorded conversations demonstrate that Hird acceded to Perri’s requests to ‘fix’ certain tickets. Given Hird’s position at Traffic Court and access to the judges, Hird was able to facilitate requests for ticket fixing for Perri.”
In many of the cases in which traffic citations were fixed, the ticket holder would not even appear in Traffic Court before the ticket was tossed or reduced, according to the government.
Two retired magisterial district judges from outside of the city who had taken on occasional assignments with Philadelphia Traffic Court based on their senior status, H. Warren Hogeland and Kenneth Miller, previously pleaded guilty in connection with the scandal.
Hogeland passed away this past summer from complications from heart surgery.