west chester court scandal: district justice mark bruno caught in philly fed probe

courthouseThis morning news broke of a Federal probe that basically indicts a boat load of judges. This all has to do with ticket fixing, and apparently has been this huge ongoing probe.  Well Main Line Media News and The Daily Local are reporting that West Chester District Justice Mark Bruno is one of the judges caught up in this HUGE scandal!

Judges above the law?  The list of names indicted is quite astonishing and sad for our judicial system if this proves true. Wow, just wow.

Daily Local: West Chester DJ named in ticket probe is suspended 

By MICHAEL N. PRICE mprice@dailylocal.com

bruno1A Chester County district judge was one of 12 people named in a federal indictment Thursday for allegedly “fixing” Philadelphia traffic tickets for those with political and social connections.

Magisterial District Judge Mark A. Bruno, who presides over District Court 15-1-01 in West Chester, was one of nine elected judges and three others who were named in the now unsealed indictment from the United States District Court in Philadelphia. According to the indictment, the accused conspirators used the Philadelphia Traffic Court to give preferential treatment to certain ticket holders, defrauding the city and commonwealth of revenue.

Bruno was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and aiding and abetting. According to a statement from the Justice Department, if convicted Bruno could face up to 60 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $750,000 fine.

On Thursday, Chester County President Judge James P. MacElree II ordered that Bruno be relieved of his duties presiding over District Court 15-1-01, which handled cases from the western wards of the borough. He is also not permitted in the court until the case is resolved.
Bruno’s charges are just one small part of a sweeping 77 count federal indictment that accuses Philadelphia ward leaders, local politicians, and associates of the Democratic City Committee of contacting defendants who were seeking preferential treatment. The defendants also allegedly “fixed” tickets for family members and friends, the indictment said.

 

Judges, Others Caught In Philadelphia Ticket-Fixing Probe

January 31, 2013 11:45 AM

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –- Several former and current judges of Philadelphia Traffic Court, plus judges in Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties, as well as local businessmen and others associated with the Philadelphia court system, were surrendering to federal authorities today after being caught in a wide-ranging probe of ticket-fixing in Philadelphia.

The accusations are contained in a 77-count indictment plus three “informations” (indicating that those three defendants may intend to plead guilty).

According to a statement from US attorney Zane Memeger, “The defendants participated in a widespread culture of giving breaks on traffic citations to friends, family, the politically connected, and business associates.”

Investigators say the judges acted on requests from Philadelphia ward leaders, local politicians, associates of the Democratic City Committee, as well as family, friends, and other associaties.  Philadelphia Traffic Court handles moving violations, not parking violations, in the city.

Read the Indictment (.pdf format)

The US attorney’s office in Philadelphia today issued the following list of defendants:

  • Michael J. Sullivan (sitting judge, Phila. Traffic Court)

  • Michael Lowry (sitting judge, Traffic Court)

  • Robert Mulgrew (former judge, Traffic Court)

  • Willie Singletary (former judge, Traffic Court)

  • Thomasine Tynes (former judge, Traffic Court)

  • Mark A. Bruno (Chester County Magisterial District)

  • H. Warren Hogeland (Bucks County senior magisterial district judge)

  • Kenneth Miller (Delaware County senior district judge)

  • Fortunato N. Perri Sr. (senior judge, Traffic Court)

  • William Hird (former Director of Records, Traffic Court)

  • Henry P. Alfano (local businessman)

  • Robert Moy (local businessman)

 

 

hmmmm…..northern chesco is breaking up

fed1It seems things are just odd in Northern Chester County.  So there is this Federation thing – to me it sounds like a GIANT Federation of Civic Associations on a municipal level.  And when it comes to Federation of Northern Chester County Communities, they are a dropping like  proverbial flies:

E. Vincent and S. Coventry backing away from Chesco’s Northern Federation

 By EVAN BRANDT ebrandt@pottsmerc.com

Posted: 12/02/12

fed2Two more towns are pulling away from the  Federation of   Northern    Chester County Communities.

On Nov. 14, the East Vincent Board of Supervisors voted 2-0 to formally withdraw from the 38-year-old cooperative municipal organization and at a Friday morning meeting, the South Coventry Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 to “take a hiatus from participation in the monthly Northern Federation meetings for 2013.”

The actions follow on the heels a withdrawal vote by East Nantmeal on July 11 and geographically divide the organization into eastern and western halves, each with three townships remaining.

fed3The result of the two votes this month leave Warwick, North Coventry, East Coventry, West Vincent, West Pikeland, and East Pikeland as the towns that remain in the Northern Federation.

In letters written to Charles Jacob, chairman of both the Warwick Board of Supervisors and the “Northern Fed” as it is often called, both townships expressed similar concerns about the organization’s lack of by-laws, stated goals and purpose and procedures regarding minutes, handling money and voting.

“We were one of the first townships to really questions the structure,” South Coventry Supervisors Chairman Tim Blevins said Friday.

fed4The Northern Federation “seems to have its own agenda and God forbid you ask a question or have a different opinion, you get shunned or ignored,” he said……The Nov. 15 East Vincent letter noted that “the Federation has begun to take on very large projects involving large sums of money and continue to forge onward without proper controls in place, despite the fact that concerns have been raised. For these reasons, the majority of East Vincent Supervisors feel it is best to withdraw unless and until proper measures are put in place.”

In fact the money related to the Federation’s latest and most ambitious project — a new parks, recreation and open space plan, or PROS — is now also part of the debate.

Funded by grants from Chester County, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and a $2,000 contribution from each township, the plan was completed and adopted by all nine of the member towns, but $9,556.70 remains unspent……In 2010, East Vincent voted 2-1 to withdraw from the Phoenixville Regional Planning Commission. (READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE)

 

Now a lot of this is all Greek to me because I haven’t lived in Chester County for long, nor do I live out in any of those municipalities.  Admittedly I am a bit jaded and tend to raise an eyebrow at governmental pow-wow associations to begin with.

Obviously not all can do the municipal back patting any longer.

Can you blame them?

Things are always wonky in West Vincent and aren’t  there new  or new proposed development plans making people cringe in one or both of the Pikelands and aren’t people worried about some particularly large swaths of land in West Vincent? (Along with odd zoning, flower shops becoming restaurants and the like?)

Anyway, it seems very curious in these Northern Chester County Municipalities doesn’t it?

Santa Claus might have a big ol’ naughty list out there….

enough, tredyffrin. enough.

I am about at my wit’s end with Tredyffrin.  I wrote the post  “very curious indeed, tredyffrin” because I saw an article in Main Line Media News titled “Tredyffrin zoning hearing board member not guilty after police are a no-show at her trial”.

I had never heard of, nor followed Ms. Suzanne Pratowski before that.  Did not know who she was, what she did, who she dates or dated, who she was married to, NOTHING.  But when I saw the Main Line Media News article I started nosing around. In public civil court dockets and criminal dockets.  And in past media stories which involve her relationship with her ex-husband.  So her ex is not without issues, either.  (But he’s not out tearing up flower beds and all that is he?)

But enough, Tredyffrin.  Stick a fork in me, I am done.  I don’t have a horse in this race, and so we are clear I will tell you what drew me to the story like a moth to a flame: the fact that a Tredyffrin public official (which Ms. Pratowski is as a member of their Zoning Hearing Board) got in trouble in May, no one heard about it, and got a hall pass in August because no police officer showed up for court. I think this is darn odd.  Sorry, I just don’t think a regular, non-connected person would have that happen to them.

Things do not add up, and what I see (my opinion) is a troubled woman who no one is doing a favor by doing her favors, understand?  And if she is indeed in a close personal relationship with a Tredyffrin Supervisor named John Dibuonaventuro, what is his role in this situation?

And then one of the comments in my original post told me to read an article in the Daily Local about Tredyffrin promoting police officers.  And I feel sorry for the officers who were involved in the two May incidents which led to court in August and the article in Main Line Media News.  And is their silence on the issue helping ?

It’s time for Tredyffrin to grow up.  Back door politics has created this hurricane of crap. Period.  Not me. Not any of the reporters who mentioned this story.

Further and to the point, no one out “to get” Suzanne Pratowski had me write the original post.  I will freely admit that I have a huge issue with people who may have alcohol dependency issues and don’t deal with them, o.k.?  This is not just some public official, this is a woman with kids and pardon the heck out of me, but I think it is time for this woman to deal with her issues and isn’t it true that a lot of people with no dog in this race agree?  And that  dealing with life includes coming off the Zoning Hearing Board in Tredyffrin.  I doubt this news story is what this board wants to be known for, do you? And truthfully, her actions and then what subsequently happened has kind of tainted the current board, can’t that be considered? Also, shouldn’t Tredyffrin be worried about decisions made by anyone involved in any level of Tredyffrin government being questioned?

We all reach a certain age and then we all know people who have had issues with alcohol.  Some people deal with those issues, others avoid they exist. Alcoholism is a cruel disease.  I have seen it nearly destroy many people, and it comes in all forms.  People only think about the falling down drunks.  There are plenty of people who are alcoholics who are much more functional.  And there are also way too many people who enable people like this.

Ms. Pratowski is a woman crying out for help at the bare minimum.  If she wasn’t a public official sitting on a Zoning Hearing Board in a municipality that is always a political powder keg, none of us would be talking about this. So now, unfortunately, she is dealing or not dealing with her issues in public.

People might think this story is going to go away, but I don’t think it is.  And at the end of the day, one other thing: this woman is a mom, which means by default children are involved.   They are innocent in this.

Truly Tredyffrin, this is a tawdry tale.  But I did not create it. It was out there and the media picked this up first.  So I would appreciate that the two camps here stop contacting me about this.  And Tredyffrin?  It is time to come out of the dark ages as a municipality and deal with this issue YOU all made worse, o.k.?

Tredyffrin needs to get its house in order and stop sounding and acting like a Shakesperian tragedy meets a made for TV movie on Lifetime.  Of course, the Inquirer article below which has no author raises even more questions, doesn’t it? Clerical error? Really?  Is that municipal speak for the dog ate their homework?

Charges in Chesco dropped when officer fails to appear

Philadelphia Inquirer August 30, 2012

A Tredyffrin woman who sits on the township Zoning Hearing Board was charged with public drunkenness and criminal mischief, but the charges were dropped when police did not show up for her hearing.

Tredyffrin Police Lt. Taro Landis told Main Line Life that the officer who was supposed to appear in court for the hearing last week was on another call at the time.

“It was purely a clerical error on the part of the officers,” Superintendent Anthony Giaimo told The Inquirer, referring to two officers involved. Giaimo said the officers were disciplined but did not elaborate…..Suzanne Pratowski, 37, of Wayne, was stopped by police May 28….She was given a portable breath test, which reported a blood-alcohol level of 0.18.

She did not return a call for comment.

Breaking News in West Vincent Township, Chester County

What? You expected me to NOT do a photo shop LOL? If West Vincent didn’t sooooo inspire me, there would be nothing to talk about, would there?

I mean seriously West Vincent in the real world when a developer wants to extend something they need to give a reason.   The Daily Local says :

According to supervisors’ Vice Chairwoman Clare Quinn, the developers did not specify a reason for the extension request, which was unanimously approved.

This land-development application is over a year old. The developers want to construct three two-story office buildings, each consisting of about 2,500 square feet.

According to Township Manager Jim Wendlegass, Birch Run Village Leasing LLC originally submitted a land-development application in late 2004, and it was denied, and the current application has a low-intensity-use sewage plan.

“Another (application) may be coming, and that’s why I think (the developers) are extending, because they’re revising,” said Quinn.

Township supervisors’ Chairman Kenneth Miller said the extension request is an opportunity for Birchrun Village LLC to address community concerns with the project.

Gee Clare, let us consult the Magic 8 Ball while we are at it…..and speaking of Farmer Supervisor Ken Miller, how is the temperature of his wife Smiling Sue and cheese at local farm markets these days? And what is this talk of knobby knees and governmental shorts?

Come on West Vincent, if you don’t want to be blogged about quit making it so darn easy…..

Oh and as the sainted Chicken  (y’all know it is Blessed Be the Chickenman, right?) suggests, check out  http://www.birchrunvillepeople.com.  I will leave West Vincent officials to their clucking now…..

wine roads of chester county

An item has caught my eye in The Daily Local today that I think is well worth passing along:

Posted: 03/07/12 07:36 am   

Whether you are a first time trailblazer or a vino veteran, the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail is a collection of seven award-winning wineries and is worth every sip. Their annual “Barrels on the Brandywine” event is approaching fast, and it’s your chance to sample each and every one of the winery’s favorites, plus score a taste of the recent harvest.

 

The “Barrels on the Brandywine” event will take shape every Saturday and Sunday in March 2012, jumpstarting on Saturday, March 3 and running through Sunday, April 1.

 

I have planned wine tasting events, attended wine tasting events and have even done the wine road of Alsace (France).   I have also visited many of the wineries on the North Fork of Long Island (some of those wines produced in the Hamptons are quite nice.)

This is an event right up my alley and sounds fun.  Now granted, as nice as some of them are, the Chester County wines will always be step-children to the wines of Oregon, California, and Europe.  However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do this.  The wines have grown over the years as the local wine makers have gained experience, had vines and processes mature, and so on. Plus touring wineries is just plain fun.  They are cool and interesting places.

Please drink responsibly and remember a tasting is just that, a taste.  It’s not supposed to be a St. Patty’s Day Pub crawl so if you do this, be responsible.

For more information and to purchase tickets or passports or whatever they call them visit the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail Web Site.

Participating wineries are:  CHADDSFORD WINERY, 632 Baltimore Pike, Chadds Ford, PA (610)388-6221; www.chaddsford.com, KREUTZ CREEK VINEYARDS, 553 S. Guernsey Rd., West Grove, PA; (610)869-4412; www.kreutzcreekvineyards.com, PARADOCX VINEYARD, 1833 Flint Hill Rd., Landenberg, PA; (610)255-5684; www.paradocx.com, PENNS WOODS WINERY, 124 Beaver Valley Rd., Chadds Ford, PA; (610)459-0808  www.pennswoodswinery.com, and one actually in Lancaster County (so I don’t quite get how it counts on the wine roads of Chester County, but I digress. The Lancaster County vineyard is TWIN BROOK WINERY, 5697 Strasburg Rd., Gap, PA; (717)442-4915; www.twinbrookwinery.com

If you decide to attend and buy tickets because you read about it on this blog, be sure to tell them you read about this on chestercountyramblings.  I am not being compensated for publicity, but I think they should know where the pay it forward came from.   Personaly I hope I have time to go and take photos as I think this sounds like so much fun!

 

 

yes, they should be “shmacked”

The word of the week is SHMACKED.  Which loosely translated is so wasted you are super dumb and useless.

Fallout from student drinking, drug video continues for Lower Merion

Published: Saturday, February 25, 2012   By Richard Ilgenfritz rilgenfritz@journalregister.com

Lower Merion school officials say the parents of all the students who have been identified in the now infamous video appearing to show local teens drinking and using drugs have been contacted.
Tuesday, Lower Merion officials learned about the video posted on YouTube that shows several students appearing to drink from bottles of alcohol and smoking from a bong. Late Tuesday, Lower Merion officials released a letter informing the community about the video. The letter stated that local police had also viewed the tape.
“At this point it’s in the hands of parents and law enforcement,” said Doug Young, school district spokesman

So Lower Merion School District has literally been the school for scandal for a few years now.  Evil spying laptop cameras, busing, budget, politics, costs of expansion of the high schools, pick a topic.

How does this matter in Chester County?

It matters because of this Shmacked Movement that they found themselves ensnared in could be any area.  There is this project by Arya Toufanian, 19, of Potomac, Md and  Jeffrie “Yofray” Ray, a 2011 graduate of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, PA .  In a nutshell it is like girls gone wild for the college party scene.

That in and of itself is bad enough, but then what brought this all home to the eyes of school and law enforcement officials was the purported video featuring high school students.  High school students.  That’s nuts.

I was sent the letter LMSD officials sent out by a friend with teens in one of the LMSD high schools:

From: “Lower Merion School District” <emailalert@lmsd.org> Date: Feb 21, 2012 9:19 PM Subject: Important Letter to Harriton and Lower Merion Parents To: [REDACTED]

Dear Parents/Guardians:
Earlier today, we learned about a company that posts YouTube videos of high school and college students engaged in apparent underage drinking and illegal drug use. One of the videos included footage of current and former LMSD high school students. Though the video is no longer online, we had an opportunity to view it and it was shared with local law enforcement.

The activities depicted in the video are reprehensible and cause for great concern. They include binge drinking, marijuana use, substance-induced violence and several dangerous situations involving drugs and alcohol in vehicles. Though all of the activities occur off campus, and the film appears to have been recorded last summer, it is critical that there are swift and appropriate consequences. Where we have the authority and power to act and respond, we will. We are in the process of notifying parents of students that appear in the video and will do so by Thursday afternoon. We ask for continued parental support in conveying the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse.
Additionally, we remind you that there are extensive resources available in our community to address substance abuse issues and addiction. While this information is always shared directly with families whose children are involved in specific incidents, we encourage you to contact your child’s school counselor or any member of the LMSD health services team at (610) 645-1829 for confidential guidance and support if you have any concerns or questions.
The video also serves as a reminder that whether or not your child is engaging in harmful and illegal activities, there may still be significant consequences for attending events where such activities occur. In this age of social media and immediate electronic communication, video and/or photographic images often do not distinguish the “innocent” from the “guilty.” Students that participate in school sports or other competitive activities may face a team suspension even if they haven’t had a sip of beer, but are found to have been “in the room” at a party where alcohol is served.  On the line are college acceptances, scholarships and personal reputation. It’s simply not worth the risk.
We trust this troubling incident will serve as a valuable learning experience for our students and families. Our staff is available to support you should you need assistance or guidance in discussing this matter with your child. As you know, our primary concern is ensuring the safety and well-being of all students. We appreciate your ongoing support and dedication to this effort.
Sincerely,
Steven Kline Principal, Harriton High School
Sean Hughes Principal, Lower Merion High School

So over on the SAC site a lot of the comments are concentrated on whether or not the school district should be involved or not.  Some comments even talk about Montgomery County convening a grand jury, which is a ludicrous thought in my opinion and how would that even happen?

As a matter of fact, all the back and forth all over the web misses the point:  that regardless of the fact that we were all (or a good portion of us)  young and dumb once, this takes young and dumb to a new level that does bump it up a notch into possibly more dangerous territory because all these kids are being filmed.

I am sure that these budding party documentary dudes are having people sign releases, but seriously what did they think was going to happen if they did this with high school students too?   And face it, these budding entrepreneurs are looking for a pay-day off this, which is fine, but don’t they get that no matter how they try to justify this, that this is really not the best idea?

So the high school video disappeared and the e-mails came out from the creators says the videos are all innocence and light and not real anything.  My eyes are rolling.

I am kind of surprised that kids’ parents are o.k. with this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more kids from this area aren’t caught up in this on various college campuses.  And the thing is this, when these kids get a little older, how do they think graduate schools and potential employers are going to view these actions caught on tape?  See that is the thing of it, they aren’t partying like rock stars on the down low when it lands on video.  It will last time in memorium.

And let’s talk about the behavior.  Like it or not, it is risky. What happens if a kid gets hurt?  Gets alcohol poisoning?  Causes a deadly accident because they got in a car wasted and more?

Do I sound like an old fart?  Am I becoming my mother?  Well let me tell you, thanks to the fact that my parents were involved in what we did in high school and actually parented, I am alive to write this post today.  No, I wasn’t Sister Popularity when my parents called to see if alcohol was being served at a party, but now as an adult I can say I would rather have had that in the long run than parents so worried about aging, not being cool, and being their kids friends first and parents last, or just ignoring their kids for others to worry about that they got messed up in crap like this.  Because face it, this is all cool to these kids now, but ask them again in 10 or 20 years and I bet the response might be different.

When I was in high school I remember something in the local paper about a kid at a party out around Berwyn (or somewhere around that area) that ran over another kid passed out on the road at a high school party – they thought the kid was a pile of leaves.  Flash forward to the years just post college.  A woman I knew who was bright and beautiful starting a fabulous career used to get a little too shmacked with great regularity.  One night some of us took away her keys and asked a bartender to NOT give them back.  Somehow she got them back and she wrapped herself around a tree on I believe if memory serves, on Darby Road in Haverford Township.  In an instant she became not only severely mentally challenged with little or no recall of anything or anyone after a certain point, but a quadriplegic as well.

So don’t tell me there are no consequences to being shmacked.  No matter what generation we are, we know it happens. And maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s hip to be square.  I think what these kids are doing is stupid on any number of levels, and parents that support this have rocks in their heads.  There is way too much that could go wrong here, and eventually I think it will. And these kids who created this?  They are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame.

A selection of media stories are below.  What are your thoughts? My ultimate thoughts is this is not ok.  It’s dumb, dangerous, and risky.  Would I have done this at that age? Hell, no.

Founder of controversial video showing L. Merion teens partying wants to discuss it, but school officials decline

February 24, 2012|By Bonnie L. Cook and Ashley Nguyen, Inquirer Staff Writers

The founder of I’m Shmacked, the enterprise that posted a controversial video online of Lower Merion teens partying, says he wants to “hash it out” on live TV with school district officials who objected to the post.

Arya Toufanian, 19, of Potomac, Md., defended his business Thursday, saying he “was not at all upset about Lower Merion complaining.”

School spokesman Doug Young declined to be drawn into any debate with Toufanian.

“Our focus is on the safety and well-being of our students,” Young said, “and that’s the bottom line.”

NBC10: Lower Merion Students Filmed Drinking, Doing Drugs/Lower Merion School District officials say they saw students drinking and using drugs on a YouTube video series called “I’m Shmacked.”

By  Teresa Masterson
|  Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012  |  Updated 4:59 PM EST

Current and former Lower Merion School District students have been seen allegedly drinking alcohol and using drugs in YouTube videos posted online, district officials told parents this week.

The alleged underage drinking and drug use was on a YouTube video series called “I’m Shmacked.” The Twitter and Facebook pages promoting the movie called “I’m Shmacked” describe the project as a film “documenting the experience of a weekend at 20 of the best and biggest universities around the United States intertwined with a book and a Web site being pitched to major publishers and studios.”

are you too cool for school in east goshen?

I am sorry, but I think this is a cool idea. East Goshen is going to have some sort of classes for residents.  In essence as I understand it, it will teach them about their municipality.  I think something like  this would be fun to attend.

I think it is important to be involved in one’s community and to have an understanding of how things work. I keep trying to bring up information about this on East Goshen’s website, but their website is not loading properly for me right now.  As per their Facebook page the next session is February 9th from 7 PM to 9 PM.  If you would like to register, please send an email to mgordon@eastgoshen.org

Anyway, see the article below:

East Goshen takes residents to school

Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2012

By JEREMY GERRARD jgerrard@dailylocal.com

EAST GOSHEN — A number of residents will soon become the first graduating class of the township’s Neighborhood University program.
The university is intended to provide township residents with an overview of local government structure and increase their awareness of available municipal services and resources. For the initial program, more than 30 residents signed up.
According to East Goshen supervisors, the university was an attempt to revive a similar educational program sponsored by the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce and formed in 2003…..The East Goshen program consists of two sessions in February. At the first session, residents learned about local governmental structure, the role of board of supervisors and the township’s core functions such as finances, public works, recreation, and emergency services. ….The second session will dive deeper into the township’s emergency services and provide an overview of each of the township’s boards and commissions.
In the future, Isayeff said they would like to expand the program to three or four sessions to include representatives from the school district and other community resources.
The township plans on continuing to offer the program to residents, though specific times and frequency have not been established.