Prosecutors: Indicted former judge tried to bribe witnesses

Dozens of men have accused former judge of sexual abuse dating back decades

By Claudia Lauer
Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A former Arkansas judge accused of giving lighter sentences to defendants in exchange for nude photos and sexual acts tried to bribe witnesses and had an accomplice threaten to make one of them "disappear," federal prosecutors say.

Joseph Boeckmann appeared disheveled as the accusations were levied during his arraignment hearing Monday in U.S. District Court in Little Rock. Wearing jeans and a button-down shirt while shackled at the waist, the 70-year-old pleaded not guilty to bribery, fraud and other federal charges just hours after prosecutors unsealed a 21-count indictment.

Dozens of men have accused the former Cross County district court judge of sexual abuse and misconduct dating back decades to his time as a prosecutor. Some men said he gave them money in exchange for spanking them with a paddle and to take photos of the red skin. Others said they posed nude in exchange for money to pay off court fines.

Boeckmann - who resigned in May after an investigation by a state judiciary board - allegedly had more than 4,600 photos of nude or semi-nude men.

The indictment alleges that Boeckmann corruptly used his position "to obtain personal services, sexual contact, and the opportunity to view and to photograph in compromising positions persons who appeared before him in traffic and misdemeanor criminal cases in exchange for dismissing the cases."

Boeckmann's attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig, did not return a message seeking comment from The Associated Press. The indictment is dated Oct. 5.

The most serious charges carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

U.S. Department of Justice Attorney Jonathan Kravis said two witnesses, identified as Person D and Person J, told prosecutors that Boeckmann had a third person approach them with bribes and threatened one of them into either recanting their statements or lying to investigators.

The third person told Person J that if there was no recanting, "that Person J would be made to disappear or words to that effect," Kravis said during the hearing.

"Person J told law enforcement that this conversation occurred in a parking lot in a car with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. Person J described their demeanor during this contact as ... terrified," Kravis said.

Kravis argued the alleged witness tampering should be enough to keep Boeckmann detained as he awaits a November trial. The magistrate judge agreed to keep Boeckmann detained until a detention hearing Wednesday.

Published: Wed, Oct 19, 2016

Comments

  1. No comments
Sign in to post a comment »