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Trial Opens in Philadelphia Traffic Court Ticket-Fixing Scandal

By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Opening statements were presented today in the trial of six former Philadelphia Traffic Court judges accused of fixing tickets (see related stories).

Prosecutor Denise Wolf told the jury there was an "underground" Traffic Court -- that these six judges on trial fixed tickets for people they knew: family and friends, political supporters, business customers, and each other.  And often, she said, the ticket violator didn't even need to bother to show up in court.

According to Wolf, these judges -- Michael Sullivan, Michael Lowery, Robert Mulgrew, Willie Singletary, Thomasine Tynes, and Mark Bruno -- "stained the black robes they wore" as they committed crimes week after week, year after year.  She called it a "ticket-fixing culture."

Outside the courtroom, defense attorney William DeStefano, who represents Judge Lowery, said, "We're very positive about Judge Lowery's chances of an acquittal in this case."  When a reporter asked why, he replied, "Because he's not guilty."

All of these defendants have pleaded not guilty.  Several other figures in the probe of Philadelphia Traffic Court have previously pleaded guilty.

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