AUGUST 06, 2009
An esteemed Florida appellate court judge embroiled in a stripper scandal has pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud for helping his exotic dancer girlfriend illegally obtain a Hawaiian residence he secretly shared with her.
While this may sound like a cheap B movie theme, it actually involves a respected, married judge and father of four whose career has disgracefully ended over an affair with an exotic dancer that he helped hide assets to avoid creditors.
Judge Thomas Stringer, who presided over the state’s 2nd District Court of Appeals, has admitted that he fraudulently obtained a $350,000 mortgage for the Hawaiian house he bought with his longtime stripper gal pal. Stringer was appointed by Republican Governor Jeb Bush in 1999 and heard appellate cases from the northern Florida counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco.
Earlier this year the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission filed a scathing complaint against Stringer indicating that the judge was quite busy away from the courtroom, committing acts that “constitute conduct unbecoming a member of the judiciary.”
The judge opened bank accounts in his name and let his stripper girlfriend use them from 2003 to 2007 to hide the money from credit collectors, according to the commission. He also leased a New York apartment for his girlfriend and, in return, the girlfriend paid for the judge’s trip and stay at a lavish Las Vegas hotel as well as expensive watches for him and his wife. The stripper also gave the judge $50,000, according to the complaint.
Rather than defend the charges, Stringer resigned a few months ago and agreed never to be a judge again so that he could keep his hefty $8,069 monthly public pension. As an appellate judge his annual salary was $153,140. In 2003 Stringer was one of the three members of the 2nd District Court of Appeals that ruled in support of a judicial homicide order in the case of a disabled woman named Terri Schiavo.
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