Wow, a judge stealing $100K from a volunteer organization. Judge Dougherty admitted he spent the money on "just life."
Pennsylvania District judge Timothy M. Dougherty charged with stealing more than $100,000
Timothy M. Dougherty is accused of taking funds from his office in West Reading and the Wyomissing Fire Company's volunteer component.
Authorities say that District Judge Timothy M. Dougherty stole more than $100,000 from a volunteer organization and his court office to fund a lifestyle that was beyond his means.
When Dougherty was interviewed by agents from the state attorney general's office in April, he told them he wished he could say the money was spent on something exciting, like “drugs or prostitutes,” according to court documents.
Instead, Dougherty said it was just “life.”
Dougherty, whose salary is $88,290, was expected to turn himself in for arraignment at 9 a.m. Thursday in Reading Central Court. But shortly before his scheduled appearance, police officers and emergency medical services personnel responded to Dougherty's court office at Walnut and Olive streets and brought Dougherty out on a stretcher.
Dougherty was taken by ambulance to Reading Hospital for an undisclosed medical condition.
A hospital spokeswoman said that he was still being evaluated at 4 p.m. Thursday. At 7 p.m., a spokesman said there were no records of Dougherty as a patient.
Dougherty, 56, of Wyomissing is charged with theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, theft by deception, conflict of interest and related counts.
The state attorney general's office handled the investigation, which involved a statewide investigating grand jury, and is prosecuting the case.
A spokesman from the attorney general's office said it hopes to arraign Dougherty on Friday. District Judge Robert A. Saraceni from Montgomery County was appointed to preside over Dougherty's case.
Dougherty, in his 18th year as a district judge, is charged with stealing $15,251 from his district court office in September and October, and $97,780 from the Wyomissing Fire Company's volunteer component, where he served as treasurer, from November 2008 to September 2015.
According to court documents, when the agents asked him in April if he knew how much he stole, Dougherty simply said “no,” but later said he had every intention of paying it back.
According to authorities:
The money Dougherty stole from his court office were funds that were to be deposited with the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, or AOPC. The district court routinely collects fines, restitution and court costs in civil and criminal cases and is required to make daily deposits.
Dougherty made the nightly deposits for his office and had final authority over the court's finances.
He eventually returned the money on Oct. 27 by making a single deposit of $15,251, but he paid that 20 days after he told investigators he did not have the missing money. The deposit was also made the day before Dougherty was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury.
During the investigation, authorities discovered the theft from the volunteer organization.
The group's financial records that Dougherty maintained were full of discrepancies, and the balances in his reports often did not match the actual money in the group's accounts.
Dougherty made cash withdrawals from the organization's savings account that was mostly funded by donations. After providing numerous other explanations, Dougherty eventually admitted to agents in April that he took money from the organization's savings account.
Officials with the volunteer organization said Thursday that they are cooperating with the attorney general's office, but have no further comment on the case at this time.
Wyomissing officials said the borough is fully cooperating with authorities, but noted that the fire company is a volunteer organization that manages its own finances.
As part of the investigation, a forensic accountant reviewed Dougherty's personal bank accounts and finances. That review showed Dougherty's accounts often were overdrawn and that he failed to pay his monthly bills, including his mortgage payment.
Dougherty had similar issues in his official capacity, according to evidence and testimony reviewed by the grand jury.
The evidence showed Dougherty violated court procedures by failing to make daily bank deposits and also failed to submit timely monthly reports to the Berks County controller's office.
Dougherty has served as district judge for West Lawn, West Reading and Wyomissing since 1998. His current term expires in 2018.
President Judge Paul M. Yatron said he submitted a request Thursday to the AOPC asking that a senior district judge be appointed to handle Dougherty's caseload. An AOPC spokesman said the request has not been processed late Thursday.
The state Judicial Conduct Board issued a petition late Thursday for Dougherty's interim suspension, with or without pay, to the Court of Judicial Discipline.
The petition was filed because Dougherty faces felony charges. It was not ruled on Thursday.
Dougherty's office was closed Thursday. It will be open Friday, but no judge will be available, officials said.
West Reading Police Chief Stephen D. Powell said his department was dispatched to Dougherty's office about 8:45 a.m. Thursday.
“The district justice had a medical condition and was transported to the hospital,” Powell said.
Powell said that he then went to Reading Hospital and spoke to Dougherty. He would not comment on the judge's condition.
“It is a medical issue,” he said.
Before Dougherty was elected district judge, he was a Cumru Township police sergeant and spent four years in the Navy, including three years as an administrator at the Pentagon. He has a degree in criminal justice from Park College in Utah and organizational management from Eastern University in Radnor.
Source: Reading Eagle