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Former Pennsylvania judge facing drug charges over evidence

A former longtime Pennsylvania county judge is being accused of tampering with evidence in drug cases that he presided over. Prosecutors have levelled several misdemeanor charges against the former judge, including drug possession and theft and felony conflict of interest.

The judge served as a Washington County Common Pleas judge for 12 years and launched the Drug Treatment Court there. But in 2011, the district attorney began complaining that the defendant was requesting that evidence in drug cases be brought to his chambers, including during the pretrial phase, which is unusual.

This happened around 10 times, prosecutors allege. The judge is accused of holding onto the drug evidence for long periods. When prosecutors requested return of the drugs after the case was completed, they claim, they learned the judge had ordered the evidence destroyed. Evidence allegedly was disposed of in several cases.

In perhaps the most serious charge, they say that in one case more than 200 grams of cocaine was returned by the judge with signs of tampering. Specifically, prosecutors claim that the packaging had been broken and some of the cocaine had been replaced with baking soda, and that the baggies had the judge's DNA on them.

The judge retired in July, and resigned from a hearing officer position in another state in December. However, it would be interesting to see how this case is resolved and how that resolution may affect guilty verdicts that were handed down in the accused judge's court over the past several years.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Former Washington County judge faces theft, drug charges," Moriah Balingit, May 23, 2013

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