MARCH 13, 2009
A veteran Pennsylvania Superior Court judge convicted of eight felonies has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison and now risks losing his lucrative public pension.
After a five-week trial that ended in mid November, the disgraced jurist (Michael Joyce) was convicted by a jury of mail fraud and multiple counts of money laundering for fleecing insurance companies out of nearly half a million dollars.
The judge falsely collected the insurance money—$390,000 from one company and $50,000 from another—by faking a serious injury after a slow-speed, rear-end collision. Joyce claimed he suffered injuries so debilitating in the 2001 fender bender that he couldn’t even hold a cup of coffee.
He eventually got busted golfing, scuba diving in the Caribbean and learning to fly a private jet while he was supposedly disabled. The State Judicial Conduct Board received a complaint, referred the case to the FBI and the judge got indicted in 2007.
Besides going to jail, Joyce must repay the entire amount that he illegally took from the two insurance companies and he must forfeit items he purchased with the fraudulently procured money, including a house. He may also lose his hefty, $122,000-a-year public pension accrued during 22 years of judicial service.
The Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System will review the case and determine whether the prison bound former judge loses his retirement income. Joyce, 60, served on the Superior Court for a decade and 12 years in Erie County Court. His annual Superior Court salary was $165,343.
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