We’d like to think our justices and judges are defined by respect, duty and impartiality. But behind that iconic black robe isn’t always a tireless drive to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. Some of the most revered judges are worse than the criminals they should be sentencing. Below we examine five corrupt judges who will make you question your faith in the legal system.
1. Judge Mark Ciavarella’s Kids For Cash Scheme
Nicknamed “Mr. Zero Tolerance”, Ciavarella was a big supporter of harsh sentences…for kids. Ciavarella sent thousand of children to a local detention center during his tenure in Luzerne County, PA. Think the kids deserved it? Listen to this: Ciavarella sent an 11-year-old to juvenile detention for almost two years after the kid took his mom’s car for a ride down the block. He also sent a 15-year-old to the same detention facility for mocking her assistant principal on MySpace and gave a 17-year-old five months for helping steal DVDs.
Here’s the part that puts Ciavarella on our list — he got kickbacks from the facility where he sent those kids. No wonder the hearings often lasted only two minutes, Ciavarella got up to a million dollars for putting hundred of innocent children behind bars. The courts wised up to his plans, and eventually sentenced Mr. Zero Tolerance to 27 years in prison. Following his sentencing, nearly 4,000 of Ciavarella’s previous convictions were overturned. Too little, too late if you ask us.
2. Judge Thomas J. Maloney Defined Corruption In Cook County
Thomas J. Maloney was a judge in Cook County, Illinois from 1977 to 1991. Maloney and numerous fellow Cook County judges were the focus of an investigation named Operation Greylord. The operation was a joint investigation by the FBI, IRS, USPS and the Illinois State Police to track down corrupt judges.
Like many of the public officials on our list, Maloney had an interesting way of dolling out sentences, especially in high-profile murder cases. In exchange for rigging murder cases Maloney got over $100,000 in bribes. Maloney let mafia members, murderers and gangsters walk free, as long as he got his “fee.” To this day Maloney is listed as “one of the worst judges in history.”
3. Judge Michael Cicconetti’s Bizarre Sentences Puts His Community At Risk
Cicconetti of Lake County, Ohio might not be taking bribes or sending innocent children to a dark future behind bars, but he is guilty of beyond bizarre sentencing. Cicconetti had a particularly creative way of prescribing punishment to anyone unfortunate enough to end up in his court room. The honorable Cicconetti had a woman spend the night alone in the woods without food after she a banded 35 kittens. He forced men who had been arrested for soliciting sex dress up as giant chickens and wonder around town.
While we can appreciate his desire to be original, Cicconetti’s sentences often caused more harm than good. For example, when a man shot his dog in the head and Cicconetti gave him 20 days in a dog costume teaching kids about traffic safety and drug abuse. Dog killer and kids just don’t mix.
4. Judge Kurt Eisgruber Shamed The Victim
While money can drive corrupt judges to make deplorable decisions, a few justices don’t need any incentive to handout horrifying sentences. In 2008, Mandy Boardman discovered that her husband, David Wise, had been drugging and rapping her, along with recording the attacks on his cell phone. Boardman filed for divorce but waited two years before taking the videos to the police. Boardman claimed that she didn’t want her kids’ father behind bars until they were adults.
Wise was arrested and found guilty of rape and criminal deviate conduct. The felony convictions could equate to six to 20 years in prison…unless Judge Eisgruber is handing out the sentences. Eisgruber took the opportunity to lecture Boardman, aka the victim, about forgiveness.
To make matters worse, the judge only gave Wise eight years of home detention with a GPS tracking devise. It wasn’t until Wise let the battery on the tracking devise die that the judge upgraded Wise’s sentence to five years in prison. FYI Eisgruber was re-elected and will be on the bench in Indianapolis, Indiana until at least 2020.
5. Judge Lisa Gorcyca Likens Kids To Charles Manson
When three kids refused orders to meet their father for lunch, Judge Lisa Gorcyca sent the kids to a junivenile detention center. Judge Lisa Gorcyca said the kids needed to have a “healthy relationship” with their father, said they weren’t behaving like “normal human beings” and likened them to Charles Manson (?!) for having the audacity to avoid their dad. (The children’s parents had been enmeshed in a long custody battle.)
The judge then told the children to apologize and have lunch with their father. When they refused, she held them in contempt of court and ordered them sent away to Children’s Village juvenile hall until the age of 18. The judge even wanted the children to be separated while inside of the facility. The kids had good reason to avoid their father, he is allegedly violent and reportedly hit their mother in front of them.
Thankfully the court of public opinion put the heat on Judge Gorcyca. The judge reluctantly took the kids out of juvenile detention and sent them to summer camp instead.
Go deeper inside a world of murder and corruption. Watch Hand of God on Amazon Prime.