Former Traffic Court Judge Thomasine Tynes Sentenced

tynes-bracelet-400When we last checked in with retired Traffic Court judge Thomasine Tynes, her $2,000 Tiffany bracelet was being waved around in front of the cameras as DA Seth Williams announced she would face corruption charges in the infamous case of the abandoned sting.

Now Tynes has been sentenced to serve two years in federal prison on perjury charges in the separate, also infamous, ticket-fixing investigation of Philadelphia’s now-defunct Traffic Court.

The Legal Intelligencer reports:

Read more »

Traffic Court Judge Sentenced to 18 Months in Federal Prison

Robert Mulgrew, a former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison yesterday for lying to investigators. Mulgrew — who was sentenced to 30 months in August in a separate matter — was not convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges in the traffic court case earlier this year.

The case stems from the longstanding practice at Philadelphia traffic court of fixing tickets, or “consideration,” for the powerful and connected. Gov. Tom Corbett disbanded Philadelphia’s traffic court last year; it has since been merged into Philadelphia municipal court.

Read more »

The Tragedy of Thomasine Tynes

Thomasine Tynes, left. The bracelet she's alleged to have accepted from a undercover confidential informant for the attorney general's office.

Thomasine Tynes, left. The bracelet she’s alleged to have accepted from a undercover confidential informant for the attorney general’s office.

As told in the media these last few months, the story of Thomasine Tynes — the former Traffic Court judge — is sordid indeed. She lied to a grand jury. She took the gift of an expensive bracelet after promising to help a young man make connections at the court. The court she served on no longer exists. Her name appears destined to go down as just one more entry in the annals of Philly civic corruption.

And all those things are true. But a sentencing memorandum prepared by her attorney, Louis Busico, offers another view of Tynes — telling the story of an African-American woman who had a hard upbringing and who rose to unexpected heights, only to have it all come crashing down. This story is a tragedy.

These sentencing memoranda are designed to elicit sympathy, of course, and thus should be taken with a grain of salt. But Busico’s memorandum (the full document is below) might make you reconsider your view of Tynes. Here are five notable passages from that memo:

Read more »

The Philadelphia Outrage Meter for the Week Ending October 24

70% of the week’s outrage was directly attributable to the bracelet bribery scandal, with 20% of the outrage directed at the existence of the alleged bribe and another 50% at the fact that the judge is alleged to have been bought off so cheaply. After all, $2,000 doesn’t get you very far at Tiffany & Co. We would have held out for something more along the lines of this.

Meanwhile, 29% of the outrage was over someone calling Bill Cosby a rapist. And the remainder of the outrage — fully 1% — was over the idea that our beloved Dr. Huxtable-playing, Jello Pudding Pop-pushing, funny sweater-wearing Temple lover could even possibly, you know, be a rapist.

UPDATE: Judge Faces Charges for Accepting Bracelet

[Update 11:37 a.m.] District Attorney Seth Williams brought the $2,000 Tiffany bracelet with him to the press conference:

Photo | 6ABC

Image via 6ABC

Williams said the case against Tynes is “press and play” — prosecutors will just have to play the tapes of Tynes accepting the bracelet, recorded by investigators during the sting operation.

These are the only charges brought out of that investigation so far, but Williams said the investigation continues against Philly state representatives who were also caught on tape taking gifts from an undercover informant.

He added that any suggestions of racial profiling — offered by Attorney General Kathleen Kane as a reason for originally dropping the case — are a distraction.

Williams’ official statement on the case:

The grand jury’s findings:

The office also released three photos — one of Tynes, two of the bracelet:



[Original 10 a.m.] Thomasine Tynes, a retired Traffic Court judge, will face state corruption charges, Fox 29 reports.

Read more »

Traffic Court Trial Drama: “The Government’s Theory Makes No Sense!”

US Eastern Pennsylvania District Court. Photo | JVinocur

US Eastern Pennsylvania District Court. Photo | JVinocur

Attorney William DeStefano began the second day of closing arguments on Friday by conceding that maybe, just maybe, his client, former Traffic Court justice Michael Lowry, had committed some ethical transgressions.

DeStefano’s trademark bowtie and uncombed, Eraserhead-lite hair cut a sympathetic figure at the center of the courtroom – more Thomas Dolby than Clarence Darrow.

Maybe my client stepped over his ethical boundaries a bit in his handling of a few traffic cases, he said, but this was not illegal.

Read more »

Courtroom Drama: Closing Arguments in the Traffic Court Trial

US Eastern Pennsylvania District Court. Photo | JVinocur

US Eastern Pennsylvania District Court. Photo | JVinocur

Think hard, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Wzorek implored the jury. I know it’s been close to eight weeks, he said, but I want you to think back to before all of this began, back to when you yourselves were being questioned for the very job of juror.

“You were warned not to know anyone,” Wzorek said in front of packed courtroom yesterday. “You were asked if you had any preconceived notions of guilt or innocence … You are the fair and impartial fact-finders [here.]”

Wzorek then swept his arm back to point at the row of suited defendants behind him.

They were the fact finders in Philadelphia traffic court,” he said. “But they got their facts in a back room.”

Read more »

Judge Calls Out Lawyers for ‘Not Civil’ Commentary at Traffic Court Trial

As the defense and prosecution debated burden of proof issues in a Philadelphia Traffic Court corruption trial Tuesday, they apparently got a little snippy with each other. And U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel wasn’t having any of it.

Stengel told an attorney to “cut it out,” had the jury escorted out of the courtroom, then chastised the lawyers for their “off-the-cuff commentary.” William DeStefano, counsel for defendant Michael Lowry, apologized to the judge. “I don’t want to hear ever again at sidebar, ‘your redirect was absurd,'” Stengel said to the lawyers. “It’s distracting and it’s not civil. It’s going on on both sides and it’s not helping.”

Read more »

« Older Posts