A former judge has pleaded guilty of influencing the outcome of two cases in the Philadelphia Municipal Court on Wednesday, Sept. 24, following a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sting operation that involved inventing a case and a defendant.
FBI agents made up the case of the fictional David Khoury complete with staged gun arrests and appearances at the court to see if Joseph Waters Jr., a Philadelphia municipal judge who resigned from his position on Sept. 23, could be made to influence the made-up case for a campaign donor. 61-year old Waters had attracted scrutiny following his involvement in a civil case that involved a politically active business owner.
According to the details of the case, the fictional Khoury is charged for illegally carrying an unloaded pistol during a traffic stop in 2012.
In January 2010, Waters received cash from a campaign donor who helped pay down debts he incurred while campaigning for a Municipal Court position. The campaign donor, who was urged to work with the FBI, first told Waters about the Khoury case in 2012 describing the defendant as his business associate's cousin.
Waters, who has promised the donor he would do anything for him that could help him in the future, then contacted Municipal Court Judge Dawn Segal, who was set to hear the case, telling her that the defendant was a friend and asking her to help him.
"You run into a problem with any of your people, you get ahold of me," Waters was quoted to have said. "Anything I can do to help you or anybody that you're interested in, all you do is pick up the phone and call me."
Segal later reduced Khoury's charge to misdemeanor which has reduced odds of a prison sentence, a ruling federal prosecutors described as one that has no proper legal basis, before the case was dropped.
On Wednesday, Waters pleaded guilty of using his position to influence the two cases as well as for federal mail-fraud and wire-fraud charges in part for his phone call to Segal, who is also currently being investigated by the state's Judicial Conduct Board.
"Joseph C. Waters, Jr., 61, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty today to using his judicial position to influence the outcome of two cases in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. Waters, a former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge, pleaded guilty to an information charging mail fraud and honest services wire fraud," the United States Attorney's Office said in a statement.