A district judge admitted to stealing almost $100,000 from a volunteer fire company organization and mishandling more than $15,000 from his court office in West Reading.
Suspended District Judge Timothy M. Dougherty made the admission in Berks County Court earlier during a hearing before Senior Judge John L. Braxton. Dougherty entered open guilty pleas to theft by unlawful taking of the funds from the fire company and to misapplication of public funds for the district court money.
The 58-year-old suspended judge from Wyomissing was in his 18th year as a district judge when he was charged and arrested in 2016 for the said case.
He was accused of stealing $15, 251 from his district court office in September and October 2015 and $97, 780 from the Wyomissing Fire Company’s volunteer component, where he also served as treasurer from the period of November 2008 until September 2015.
Authorities stated that the district judge pocketed the full amount by depositing the money from the district court office to his personal account on October 27, 2015. It was also on the day before he was subpoenaed to testify before a state investigating grand jury.
The funds stolen from the fire company came mostly from donations. Authorities previously claimed that none of the money has been recovered.
Dougherty told investigators when he was questioned about the missing funds that he spent it on “life”, and “not exciting things” such as “drugs and prostitutes.”
Dougherty faced other charges but the state attorney general’s office dismissed the other charges which also included conflict of interest, theft by deception, theft by failing to make required disposition of funds and receiving stolen property.
Dougherty has an annual salary of a little more than $88,000. He was suspended without pay by the state Court of Judicial Discipline. The board filed the petition for his suspension on May 12, 2016, the same day the attorney general’s office announced the charges against him. It is not clear whether the timing was deliberate or coincidental.
It is not yet clear if his suspension will be lifted with his guilty plea, or if he would lose license should he be convicted.