Richard B. Thompson, 62, of Middletown, received a curiously lenient deal from Monmouth County Prosecutors on Friday when he pleaded guilty to one count of fourth degree Falsifying Records.
As the Municipal Court Judge in nine Monmouth County towns, Thompson altered records of approximately 4000 traffic tickets, according to an announcement by Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. In his scheme which occurred between January 2010 and the date of his suspension in October of 2015, Thompson converted fines for motor vehicle infractions to contempt of court penalties. He admitted that the purpose of the scheme was to enable towns that hired him to keep the money collected from wayward motorists rather than split it with Monmouth County, as required by state law. The scheme cost Monmouth County’s treasury more than $500,000.
Under his plea deal, Thompson won’t serve the 18 month sentence for a fourth degree crime. Rather, he will be on non-custodial probation and be eligible to apply for pre-trial intervention (PTI). If he successfully completes the PTI program, his record will be expunged. He won’t be able to serve as a judge again or hold any other public job in NJ.
If I was a municipal official responsible for hiring Thompson, I’d be interviewing criminal defense attorneys and praying the deal that he got is a case of lawyers giving one of their own a break rather than an indication that he is cooperating in a broader investigation. Had Thompson been charged and convicted of Official Misconduct, he would be looking at mandatory jail time.
Thompson earned $217,400 per year, combined, as the part-time municipal Judge for Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Middletown, Neptune City, Oceanport, Rumson, Tinton Falls and Union Beach. Gramicionni’s announcement made no mention of the status of Thompson’s pension.
“County residents who appear before judges do so with the rightful expectation that those entrusted with black robes will be honest and forthright, and uphold the highest principles of integrity. Our legal system depends on this public trust and confidence, and we reference judges as ‘Your Honor’ for this very reason. Thompson’s persistent disregard for these principles, and manipulation of the municipal court system, betrayed this sacred trust,” Gramiccioni stated.
Thompson’s attorney, Charles Uliano of Long Branch, said, “It’s been a very difficult two years and three months. He would like to thank his many friends in the legal community for their emotional support. It’s regrettable that such a distinguished career should end in this way,” according to app.com.