Third Defendant in Ticket-Fixing Scheme Pleads Guilty
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 13, 2013|
PHILADELPHIA—Fortunato Perri, 76, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty today to taking part in a fraud scheme involving nine other judges at Philadelphia Traffic Court. Perri pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, one count of mail fraud, and two counts of wire fraud. He faces a possible advisory sentencing guideline range of zero to six months in prison, before variances or departures. U.S. District Court Judge Robert F. Kelly scheduled a sentencing hearing for June 21, 2013.
Perri admitted receiving free auto repairs, free towing, free videos, and free seafood from a co-defendant in exchange for “fixing” tickets. Perri 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, Director of Records, charged elsewhere. Hird, in turn, allegedly conveyed the request to the assigned judge. Court-authorized intercepted telephone conversations reveal that Perri prioritized assisting the co-defendant from whom he received free services.
Defendant Hird, it is alleged, 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 allegedly 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 his/her ticket was fixed. As a result, the ticketholders paid lesser or no fines and costs and evaded the assessment of “points” on their driver’s records. This widespread ticket-fixing defrauded both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia of funds and allowed potentially unsafe drivers to remain on the roads.
Perri is the third defendant to plead guilty. Co-defendants H. Warren Hogeland, who was a Bucks County Senior Magisterial District Judge, and Kenneth Miller, who was a Delaware County Senior District Judge, admitted to participating in the practice of giving breaks on Philadelphia traffic citations to friends, family, the politically connected, and business associates. They entered their guilty pleas on February 12, 2013, and will be sentenced on May 24, 2013.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Denise S. Wolf and Anthony J. Wzorek.