PHILADELPHIA – Lawyer Charles P. Mirarchi III, 53, has
pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and agreed to
help prosecutors in the trial of Joseph F. Hoffman Jr.,
former manager of the city's Bureau of Administrative
Adjudication (BAA), which hears parking ticket appeals.
Under the plea agreement, Mirarchi faces a six-month prison
term. But if he cooperates as promised in his plea, he
would likely get a lesser sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy L. Kurland said Mirarchi's law
license could be suspended as a result of the plea, and
that it could also affect his benefits as a city employee.
In addition to his law practice, Mirarchi has been a deputy
city commissioner since 1973, currently earning $37,893.
In a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, Mirarchi has
agreed to testify against a co-defendant, Joseph F. Hoffman
Jr., who has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial.
Neither Mirarchi nor Hoffman knew it at the time, but the
taxi company owner, Michael Etemad, was working undercover
for the FBI and taping his conversations with them.
Hoffman, 48, son of a South Philadelphia ward leader, once
headed the city's BAA, an agency that hears appeals of
Mirarchi, former deputy city commissioner and son of a city
judge, has been working in recent years as a private
Prosecutors filed a memorandum with U.S. District Judge
Bruce Kauffman, outlining how Mirarchi allegedly helped
Hoffman fix $47,000 worth of tickets for the owner of a
Mirarchi's role in the ticket-fixing scheme was simple,
He notified the BAA that he was the lawyer for individuals
for whom Hoffman was fixing tickets, covering up the fact
that these fines had been eliminated without those
individuals ever appearing at the BAA, as required by the
agency's own rules.
"Having an attorney enter an appearance would provide an
explanation as to why there was no taped record of the
hearing if the legitimacy of the dismissal was ever
questioned in the future," Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amy
Kurland and Judy Goldstein Smith wrote in the memorandum.
Mirarchi went to the BAA "as often as four times per week"
and "signed as many as 40 entry of appearance forms at a
time for Hoffman, all for people he did not represent,"
Hoffman's attorney, F. Emmett Fitzpatrick Jr., declined to
comment about the allegations against his client, who is
scheduled to be tried in January.
Mirarchi's lawyer, John Rogers Carroll, couldn't be reached
An investigation alleged last year that Hoffman dismissed
125,000 parking tickets, worth more than $6 million, for
friendly politicians, businesses and others while he was
In the guilty plea memo, prosecutors disclosed that an FBI
undercover investigation two years ago led to the criminal
The prosecutors indicated that attorney Mirarchi acted as
Hoffman's bagman in accepting payoffs to fix tickets from
Etemad, the taxi company owner who was working undercover
for the FBI.
"Mirarchi called these payments fees or retainers, even
though he did no legal work for Etemad, and despite the
fact that he gave the money he received from Etemad to
Hoffman," prosecutors noted.
"After receiving the bribes from Etemad, Hoffman reduced
more than $47,000 worth of tickets to $3,500,” prosecutors
At a recorded meeting at Etemad's office on May 23, 2002,
Hoffman allegedly said he "could work with Etemad to reduce
his outstanding parking tickets," prosecutors disclosed.
Hoffman came to Etemad's office that day with Mirarchi and
told Etemad that Mirarchi would represent Etemad on the
parking tickets. This way, their relationship would "look
more professional," Hoffman allegedly told Etemad.
"Hoffman said he could clear up the tickets without Etemad
coming into the BAA. Hoffman said the tickets could be
cleared over time so it did not look like 'a big hole in
Hoffman allegedly added that he knew Etemad likes to
"So I'm not looking for nothing, no problems, and in the
meantime, you get rectified. But Michael, you'll be very
happy ... This is a long-term relationship. This is not a
short-term relationship. That's the way we'll do it,"
Hoffman purportedly said.
That day, Etemad "counted out $2,000 in Hoffman's presence
and Hoffman told Etemad that the money would be
Mirarchi's 'retainer, you follow me?' "
Prosecutors said Etemad gave Mirarchi an envelope
containing $2,000. Later, Mirarchi told Etemad that the
taxi company owed the city $47,127 for parking tickets.
On Aug. 5, 2002, Etemad gave Mirarchi a $3,000 bribe to
pass on to Hoffman, who was outside the taxi company,
waiting in a car, unaware that FBI surveillance agents were
"Etemad and Mirarchi went outside to see Hoffman, and
Etemad told Hoffman that he had given Mirarchi '3.' "
"Hoffman said that whatever Etemad and Mirarchi were doing
was fine with him," prosecutors alleged.
About a week later, Mirarchi "told Etemad that the $47,000
in parking tickets would be dismissed over time in order to
avoid raising eyebrows, and that Etemad would pay the city
$3,500 in six payments."
On Sept. 17, 2002, Etemad gave Mirarchi $2,000. Agents
followed Mirarchi as he drove to the BAA office and other
places. The next day, Etemad and Hoffman spoke on the phone.
Etemad told Hoffman he'd given Mirarchi "2 Gs" the day
before and "7 Gs cash" in total.
Hoffman said, "OK" and that he appreciated it.
Mirarchi later gave Etemad parking ticket disposition
reports that showed wholesale ticket dismissals as well as
reduced fines for some of Etemad's parking tickets.
"In sum, Hoffman had dismissed about $47,000 worth of
tickets in exchange for the $7,000 that Etemad had provided
to Mirarchi," prosecutors alleged.