Ex-municipal judge now in a fix over tickets

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BRADLEY BEACH — A former Bradley Beach municipal court judge is fighting for his professional life in New Jersey Supreme Court after admitting he fixed motor vehicle tickets in order to get more revenue for municipalities where he had served.

Richard B. Thompson, who served Bradley Beach and seven other New Jersey towns municipalities as a judge, testified in Trenton on Jan. 7 that he had not known that his handling of the motor vehicle citations was wrong.

“If I knew in 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013 that what I was doing was wrong I would have changed immediately,” Mr. Thompson told the justices during the disbarment hearing. “My reputation has been ruined, my career has been ruined.”

Between 2010 and his suspension in 2015, Mr. Thompson suspended fines on motor vehicle tickets, in which fine monies are split evenly between the county and municipality, and converted those tickets to contempt of court fines, which go entirely to the municipality. 

An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s found that this affected about 4,000 cases. Mr. Thompson, during the hearing, said he was only presented with 35 cases in which he converted tickets.  

The case was prosecuted by Eugene A. Racz, the deputy ethics counsel for New Jersey Judiciary Office of Attorney Ethics.

Mr. Racz set out to convince justices that Mr. Thompson’s actions had “tainted the well” of trust between the judiciary and the public.

“The respondent’s [Mr. Thompson’s] criminal behavior committed in his capacity as a judge is as disturbing as it is extensive,” Mr. Racz said.

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