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Former Philly Traffic Court judges admit to "fixing" tickets

The old adage "membership has it is privileges" is probably best remembered as an advertising jingle for regular Americans to purchase big ticket items or engage in the spoils that only the ultra rich can enjoy. In reality, it could also mean that you could take advantage of certain perks of the high life: courtside seats at an NBA game, standing reservations at the best steakhouse, and getting traffic tickets fixed.

Fixing tickets may seem like an urban myth, but according to a recent FBI probe, Philadelphia Traffic Court judges were doing just that. Two former judges recently pled guilty to conspiracy and mail fraud after an investigation into ethical violations turned into federal criminal indictments that involve seven other judges as well as members of their respective staffs.

Both judges, well into their seventies, have since retired from the bench, but their guilty pleas give credence to what was called a rampant practice. According to prosecutors, both accepted what is called "consideration" which included dismissing tickets and/or reducing fines at the request of other judges or other power brokers.

While they reportedly did not take money or other gifts in exchange for favors, both judges faced felony charges for fixing tickets. They face prison time for their actions, but they will likely argue (and receive) probation in exchange for their willingness to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Nevertheless, the image of a fair and impartial judicial system took a serious public relations hit.

If you think you can get your ticket fixed, you may find that membership may no longer have its privileges.

Source: Philly.com, Former traffic court judges are the first to plead guilty, February 12, 2013

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Gregory R. Gifford
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