Fourth Defendant in Ticket-Fixing Conspiracy Pleads Guilty
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 27, 2014|
PHILADELPHIA—William Hird, 68, of Philadelphia, Pennsylavania, pleaded guilty today to taking part in a fraud scheme involving judges at the former Philadelphia Traffic Court. Hird, who was director of Records at the time, pleaded guilty to 18 counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, and lying to the FBI when questioned about ticket-fixing at Traffic Court. Hird is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the fraud conspiracy that the government alleges involved frequent and pervasive ticket-fixing at the Philadelphia Traffic Court. U.S. District Court Judge Robert F. Kelly has not yet set a sentencing date. Hird faces a possible advisory sentencing guideline range of 12 to 18 months in prison, before variances or departures.
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 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 record. 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.
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.