More details on jury verdict in Phila. Traffic Court case; defendants not guilty on fraud, conspiracy charges: http://t.co/VOuUJipsXE
— Legal Intelligencer (@thelegalintel) July 23, 2014
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.
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.”
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.”
The corruption trial of former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges is underway, and this is a chart that some of the defendants in the ticket-fixing case asked the judge to exclude. Read more »
If you want to get out of a traffic ticket in Philadelphia, just ply the judge with porn.
Okay, this isn’t the case any more. But, though the deal appears to have only been available to Southwest Philly auto kingpin Henry “Eddie” Alfano, it did exist: Alfano pleaded guilty Thursday to 13 counts of conspiracy and fraud for trading porn and other favors to former Traffic Court judge Fortunato Perri Sr. In exchange, Perri would fix tickets for Alfano.
Alfano, 68, said the mutual favors stemmed from a long friendship with Perri, but admitted in court on Thursday they were illegal. “Judge Perri was a dear and old friend,” he said in court yesterday. “But what I did, asking him for consideration, was extremely wrong and illegal.” Perri, 77, pleaded guilty last year.
Investigators recorded calls where Alfano offered free auto repairs. One found Perri asking Alfano to leave porn films in the trunk for him; Alfano is the landlord for two strip clubs and the Venus Video Adult Superstore. “Pack ’em real nice … tape ’em and all,” Perri said on the recording.