By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Trial opened today in federal court for a former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge charged with stealing grant funds intended to beautify his South Philadelphia neighborhood (see related story).

READ MORE: Man Charged After Juvenile Shot In Alleged Road Rage Incident In Lehigh County, Police Say

In his opening statements, prosecutor Paul Gray told the jury that defendant and former judge Robert Mulgrew and another woman obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grant funds “to renovate the South Philadelphia neighborhoods where they lived.  We are going to prove that instead of renovating the neighborhood as they said they would do, they stole significant state grand funds for their own purposes and misused them for the benefit to themselves, their relatives, and their friends.”

The co-defendant, Lorraine Dispaldo, pleaded guilty in April (another related story).

Mulgrew’s wife, Elizabeth, is also on trial for tax evasion in connection with the alleged scheme.

READ MORE: 55-Year-Old Eloise Harmon, Who Was Shot And Killed In South Philadelphia, Identified As City's 500th Homicide Victim

But the defense attorney has argued that although mistakes were made by Mulgrew, there was no intent to defraud, and that Mulgrew, a go-to guy for good works in the neighborhood and who was largely responsible for its amazing transformation, was left to fill out grant paperwork, much of it based on information from others.

Stay tuned to KYW Newsradio 1060,, and CBS-3 for udpates on this continuing news story.


MORE NEWS: Flyers Ripped By Hurricanes For 5th Straight Loss