By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Just as his trial was getting underway in earnest (see previous story), a former Philadelphia Traffic Court judge today pleaded guilty to fraud and income tax evasion charges.

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Former judge Robert Mulgrew, 56, admitted stealing state grand funds that he claimed were being used to help beautify his Dickinson Square neighborhood in South Philadelphia.

Prosecutor Paul Gray says Mulgrew used the money — an estimated $50,000 to $100,000 — to enrich himself, his family, and friends.

“We showed that Mr. Mulgrew stole the grant funds and essentially used them to buy a pickup truck, to make a number of personal expenditures such as paying the exterminator bills and the cameras that we showed he had purchased,” Gray said afterward.

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As part of the plea deal, tax evasion charges against Mulgrew’s wife, Elizabeth, have been dismissed.  Her attorney had said she was innocent, and now her husband has taken full responsibility for the tax offenses.

He will be sentenced later.

Mulgrew is also charged in a separate case with ticket-fixing.  About a dozen people are charged in that case and Mulgrew, who has pleaded not guilty, is still awaiting trial there.

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