A former municipal court judge who is said to have a law office in Red Bank is facing disbarment one year after he admitted illegally diverting more than $600,000 in court fines from Monmouth County to municipal coffers, the Asbury Park Press reported Thursday.
Richard B. Thompson, 63, who sat on the bench in Middletown, Rumson and seven other towns, committed “large-scale fraud” and a “shocking abuse” of judicial power, and even threatened to jail a citizen who questioned his conduct, the Press reported, quoting from a filing by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics.
In February, 2018, Thompson pleaded guilty in state Superior Court to falsifying records in more than 4,000 cases as part of a scheme of fixing court dispositions to benefit municipalities where he served as a judge.
He admitted that on numerous occasions from January 2010 to October 2015, he suspended fines he issued in connection with the disposition of motor vehicle tickets and improperly converted those monies to contempt of court assessments. The purpose of this scheme was to steer monies to the municipalities that employed him as a municipal court judge, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said at the time.
Thompson’s apparent motive, Gramiccioni said, was to curry favor with local officials who appointed him.
A month later, Thompson was admitted to the state’s pretrial intervention program by the after taking a plea that enabled him to avoid up to 18 months in prison.
Thompson was suspended from all nine benches in October, 2015.
According to the Press, Thompson sat in Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Middletown, Neptune City, Oceanport, Rumson, Tinton Falls and Union Beach, and collected $217,500 in salaries in 2014, when he was on the bench in six municipalities.
As part of his guilty plea, Thompson forfeited the ability to hold public office again, according to the Press.
The Press reported that Thompson has a law office in Red Bank; a Google search indicates the office is, or was, in Middletown within the Red Bank postal zone.