Northeast Times

Perri pleads guilty in ticket scandal

— The former ad­min­is­trat­ive judge at the city’s Traffic Court is the third former judge to plead guilty in the scan­dal.

For­tu­nato N. Perri Sr., a former ad­min­is­trat­ive judge of the city’s Traffic Court, pleaded guilty to four charges in fed­er­al court last week in con­nec­tion with what the U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice has called the court’s wide­spread cul­ture of tick­et fix­ing.

Perri, 76, could face up to 65 years in pris­on and be fined up to $1 mil­lion, U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge Robert F. Kelly said from the bench on March 13.

But Den­ise Wolf, as­sist­ant U.S. At­tor­ney, speak­ing out­side of court, raised the pos­sib­il­ity that the sen­tence could be lim­ited to pro­ba­tion or house ar­rest. A sen­ten­cing guideline could be as little as zero to six months in pris­on, the gov­ern­ment said in a state­ment.

In a plea deal, Perri ad­mit­ted he was guilty of the charges brought by the gov­ern­ment in Feb­ru­ary. Wolf said Perri was not lis­ted in the agree­ment as a co­oper­at­ing wit­ness, but there was noth­ing that would pre­clude him from co­oper­at­ing.

“Perri ad­mit­ted re­ceiv­ing free auto re­pairs, free tow­ing, free videos, and free sea­food from a co-de­fend­ant in ex­change for fix­ing tick­ets,” a state­ment from the U.S. At­tor­ney’s of­fice said.

In the char­ging doc­u­ments, the gov­ern­ment said Perri ar­ranged pref­er­en­tial treat­ment in the hand­ling of traffic tick­ets for Henry P. “Ed­die” Al­fano, a South­w­est Phil­adelphia busi­ness­man and former po­lice of­ficer. 

Court-ap­proved in­ter­cep­ted tele­phone calls re­vealed the Perri made it a pri­or­ity to as­sist Al­fano.

He is one of 12 people who were charged in the scan­dal, in­clud­ing nine cur­rent or former traffic court judges. Two oth­er former judges have also pleaded guilty. Charges against Perri are con­spir­acy to com­mit wire and mail fraud, com­mit­ting mail fraud, and two counts of wire fraud.

The former judge shuffled in and out of the courtroom hold­ing the arm of his de­fense at­tor­ney, Bri­an Mc­Monagle, and re­spon­ded to Kelly’s ques­tions as to wheth­er he un­der­stood the charges and the re­per­cus­sions of his plea with one word: “Yes.”

Kelly set sen­ten­cing for June 21. Perri is free on a $20,000 bond.

Mc­Monagle said later that Perri, who looked frail, had suffered two strokes with­in the last year.

The case broke in­to the open in Janu­ary when a fed­er­al grand jury re­leased a re­port spelling out the de­tails of the al­leged scheme. Perri and the two oth­ers who have pleaded guilty were not in­dicted, but charged by in­form­a­tion. They were charged with giv­ing ref­er­en­tial treat­ment to fam­ily mem­bers, friends and the polit­ic­ally con­nec­ted that came to court with tick­ets that had been is­sued for mov­ing vi­ol­a­tions. ••

You can reach at dwarner@bsmphilly.com.

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