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Traffic Court judge faces new charges

The state Judicial Conduct Board has filed its own fraud and conspiracy charges against Michael J. Sullivan.

THE STATE'S Judicial Conduct Board filed ethics charges yesterday against a Philadelphia Traffic Court judge embroiled in an alleged ticket-fixing scam.

Although a federal jury acquitted Michael J. Sullivan of conspiracy and fraud charges in July, the board accuses him of judicial misconduct that undermines "both public confidence in the judiciary and its reputation," according to a complaint filed yesterday.

During the federal trial, prosecutors alleged that from 2008 to 2011, the six former Traffic Court judges, including Sullivan, either broadly dismissed traffic tickets or rendered "not guilty" verdicts for socially and politically connected people, thus depriving the government of untold sums in fines and fees.

Sullivan was the only city judge who didn't testify in front of the jury, and the only one to be dismissed on all charges, after some of his colleagues were accused of perjury.

In the latest complaint, the board accuses Sullivan of that same fraud, in addition to introducing a new offense: that Sullivan allegedly used his influence to help his cousin obtain an altered payment plan for fines.

The board is hoping to block Sullivan from resuming his position through a petition that would extend his suspension without pay - which began when he was indicted in 2013 - until the complaint is settled.

Since his acquittal, Sullivan has sought to vacate the suspension and to collect his salary for the remaining three years of his six-year term.