By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal jury today heard from an insider at the former Philadelphia Traffic Court, as the trial for six judges accused of fixing tickets continues.
The witness, Tonya Hilton, was an aide to Willie Singletary, one of the judges now on trial. She was testifying under a grant of immunity — that is, she can’t be prosecuted as long as she tells the truth.
Hilton said it was wrong that some people who broke the law with traffic violations had to pay, while others didn’t. It depended, she said, on who you knew.
Hilton told the jury it was called “consideration” and, she testified today, Judge Singletary told her it was something judges do among themselves: asking for “consideration,” possibly a dismissal of the case.
She said Judge Singletary routinely got requests for consideration from the personal assistants for other judges including defendants Michael Sullivan, Robert Mulgrew, Michael Lowery, and Thomasine Tynes.
According to Hilton, those cases went into a separate pile, for “consideration.”
The defendant judges have pleaded not guilty. Defense attorneys have pointed out through questioning that Hilton didn’t know what happened in those cases she passed on for consideration. And, they made clear, she had sought “consideration” on tickets for a family member and a church friend.
Several other defendants in the probe of Philadelphia Traffic Court have previously pleaded guilty. The operations of the court were transferred to Philadelphia Municipal Court after the scandal came to light.