— 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. ••