William Hird, former director of records for the now-defunct Philadelphia Traffic Court, was sentenced Monday to 24 months in prison for his role in a fraud scheme involving judges at the former court.
Hird pleaded guilty in January to 18 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud and lying to the FBI when questioned about ticket fixing at Traffic Court.
According to court records, former traffic court judge Fortunato Perri, Sr., who pleaded guilty on March 13, 2013, would receive traffic citation numbers, the names of offenders, or the actual citations to arrange “fixing” the ticket and would convey the information to William Hird.
Hird, 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. 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.
As part of the scheme, tickets were “fixed” by either being dismissed, finding the ticket holder “not guilty,” or finding the ticket holder guilty of a lesser offense. In many cases, the ticket holder did not even appear in Traffic Court, yet their ticket was “fixed.” As a result, the ticketholders paid lesser or no fines and costs, and evaded the assessment of points on their driving record.
Hird is the third defendant sentenced in the fraud conspiracy that involved frequent and pervasive “ticket-fixing” at the Philadelphia Traffic Court. Thomasine Tynes, 71, of Philadelphia, was sentenced earlier this month to 24 months in prison for lying about ticket fixing. A federal jury in July found Tynes, a former traffic court judge, guilty of two counts of committing perjury before the federal grand jury investigating the case.
In fashioning the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Stengel agreed with the government that Tynes attempted to obstruct justice during the trial by contacting, and attempting to influence, a key prosecution witness.
Tynes contacted the witness multiple times during the trial, commenting on what witnesses were saying from the witness stand and on specific issues arising at trial. This contact included a personal visit to the witness’ home as well as numerous text messages to the witness.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Stengel ordered a fine of $5,000, a $200 special assessment, and supervised release.