Former state Supreme Court judge sentenced to more than two years

Former state Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo was sentenced Monday to more than two years i


Former state Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo was sentenced Monday to more than two years in federal prison for attempted extortion and bribery, federal prosecutors said.

Spargo, 66, was convicted in August after a federal jury found that in 2003 he solicited a $10,000 payment from an attorney with cases pending before him in Ulster County and while Spargo served as a state Supreme Court justice.

When the attorney declined to pay the money, the jury found, Spargo increased pressure on him by a second communication through an associate. The attorney felt that if he didn’t pay the money, his cases, including a personal divorce case, would be in jeopardy.

At Monday’s sentencing, U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe said of Spargo’s actions, “For a judge, there is nothing more reprehensible.”

Spargo had already been removed from the bench by 2006 on the same allegations.

The case was prosecuted by Justice Department lawyers Richard C. Pilger and M. Kendall Day. The case was initiated and investigated by the FBI’s Albany division.

“Fair and impartial judgment by those entrusted to carry out the laws is the bedrock of our legal system. When those sworn to uphold the law violate it, they will be held accountable,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said in a statement. “We cannot and will not allow the public’s faith in our legal system to be shaken by judicial corruption.”

Spargo’s attorney, E. Stewart Jones, could not be reached for comment.

Spargo served as a judge in the 3rd Judicial District from January 2002 until being removed in March 2006.

In April 2006, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct recommended his removal from the bench for raising money for his personal benefit from attorneys who had cases pending before him. Spargo did not appeal the decision.

The commission said that Spargo solicited money from lawyers for his legal expense fund because he was facing rising legal expenses incurred in litigation challenging several disciplinary proceedings against him.

It found he “conveyed an appearance of exploiting his judicial office for personal benefit” and acted inappropriately as a judicial candidate, part-time justice and full-time judge.

It cited activities that included handing out $5 drink coupons for free drinks while he campaigned for town justice.

Before he was elected a state Supreme Court justice, Spargo served as town justice in Berne from January 2000 to December 2001.

He has also been well known as an election law expert and had worked as deputy corporation counsel for the city of Troy. He went to Florida in late 2000 to help George W. Bush during the Bush/Gore presidential recount.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply