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Phila. Traffic Court Judge, 2 Others Charged With Fraud

By Kim Glovas

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A Philadelphia Traffic Court judge, his wife, and a Pennsylvania state representative's aide were arrested this morning on charges of defrauding the state out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Assistant US attorney Paul Gray says Judge Robert Mulgrew, his wife Elizabeth, and Lorraine Dispaldo, an aide to a Pennsylvania legislator, schemed to illegally obtain funds from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

"Mr. Mulgrew and Ms. Dispaldo are charged with receiving and misusing state grant funds that were granted to two nonprofit groups with which they were associated," Gray disclosed today.  "They're charged with a number of mail and wire fraud counts regarding the misuse of those funds."

The two nonprofit groups are  Friends of Dickinson Park and Community to Police Communications.   Gray would not say how the value of the alleged fraud, but said the two groups obtained more than $800,000 from the state.  He adds that all three defendants are also charged with filing false tax returns.

"He will aggressively defend these charges,"  says defense attorney Angie Halim, representing Robert Mulgrew, "and looks forward to the opportunity to defend himself against these charges.  (There are) a lot of baseless allegations in this indictment."

"We will vigorously defend against these charges and look forward to our day in court," said defense attorney Catherine Recker, who represents Dispaldo.

Defense attorney Robert Lynch, who represents Elizabeth Mulgrew, said, "These are vague and baseless allegations that at most involve Mrs. Mulgrew allegedly signing tax returns that were filed. We're talking about minimal de minimis allegations at best here."

Arraignment is expected in a couple of weeks.

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