Chester County Magisterial District Judge Mark Bruno, who was swept up in the Traffic Court ticket-fixing scandal last month, is bringing a federal suit against the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Bruno is seeking an injunction from the high court's suspension of him without pay. Bruno argues that the move is a violation of his 14th Amendment rights.
Bruno has entered a plea of not guilty and "emphatically" denies guilt in the criminal proceedings, according to the complaint.
"The plaintiff, Judge Mark A. Bruno, is married and has a family with minor children and he was the main financial support of his family," according to the complaint. "He has now been deprived of his ability to support his family without any due process of law or opportunity to be heard and deprived of his income and ability to properly pay his attorneys to defend these accusations."
Bruno was suspended without pay February 1, when the state Supreme Court issued an order to that effect. About a dozen current and former Traffic Court judges were charged by federal prosecutors with being involved in a conspiracy to fix traffic tickets for the politically connected in Philadelphia. Three of them have made plea deals and Bruno is the first to file a suit.
Most recently, former Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Fortunato Perri Sr. admitted in federal court to fixing traffic tickets for contacts who provided him seafood, videos, the installation of a patio and car repairs.
He pleaded guilty to four felony counts, including a count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of mail fraud. The deal does not involve a commitment to cooperate, Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise S. Wolf said.
Last month, H. Warren Hogeland and Kenneth Miller, both retired magisterial district judges who had been specially appointed to serve on the Traffic Court bench, like Bruno, each entered guilty pleas in federal court.
Hogeland pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and one count of mail fraud.
Miller pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. Court documents show that Miller, but not Hogeland and Perri, has explicitly agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.