We all knew it was coming.
I wrote about it, news outlets fed the speculation, talk radio lines were buzzing and it was all just a matter of time.
“It” was the guilty plea entered by yet another Luzerne County Judge. The third gangster judge, and the 20th person, to be charged in the ongoing federal corruption probe currently being conducted in Luzerne County. This time, it was Michael Toole.
If you recall, Toole made headlines a few weeks ago when he cleared his court schedule for the rest of the year in order to take “vacation.” When his calendar was suddenly empty speculation ran rampant, “Could he be next?”
Like I said, we all knew it was coming.
According to arrest papers, Toole “secretly communicated with an attorney (you can also visit their website) to determine who that attorney wished to have appointed as a neutral arbitrator in an underinsured motorist case.” The attorney, who I’m told is a prominent ambulance chaser but is only identified as “Participant #1,” gave Toole free use of a New Jersey beach house without disclosing that when assigned the case.
Your dis-honor is also charged with tax evasion for failing to report a $30,000 “referral fee” he received from another unnamed attorney. Referral fee? For a judge? Can someone spell “conflict of interest?”
Toole can spend up to 23 years in the lock-up for his shenanigans while on the bench. I say, send him away today.
Toole joins fellow gangster judges Mark “Scooch” Ciavarella and Michael “Big Mike” Conahan in the Corrupt Judges Hall of Fame. Scooch and Big Mike have pled guilty to accepting cash in return for locking up juveniles in detention centers they were getting kickbacks from.
One thing that bothers me in the Toole case is that Toole signed the plea agreement in late September, however, he still presided over cases until he was officially charged today. Something seems wrong with that? Who allowed a judge, who we can now call a criminal, to continue to hear court cases after he plead guilty to these charges?
I happened to listen to a local radio talk show today where a few Toole supporters (can you believe there are such people?) called in to say, “Mike’s a nice guy.” I couldn’t believe what I was listening to! The guy is a gangster. Gangsters aren’t nice guys.
There is not one person in the world who can justify the actions of these three men who were elected to uphold the laws which are the foundation of this nation’s justice system. They wielded power that is reserved for only a select few and they used that power for unjust enrichment.
Their crimes were based on greed.
Their punishment will be based on the guidelines they used to sentence by.
And ain’t that ironic.