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Press Release

Former Bucks County Judge Sentenced to 6 ½ Years in Prison for Public Corruption

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that John Waltman, 61, of Trevose, Pennsylvania was sentenced to 78 months’ incarceration by Judge Gene E.K. Pratter.  In January 2019, the defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and Hobbs Act Extortion Under Color of Official Right.

From 2011 to December 2016, Waltman served as a Magisterial District Judge in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Together with his co-defendants who will both be sentenced later this week, Bernard Rafferty and Robert Hoopes, Waltman participated in a scheme to extort bribes and kickbacks from Bucks County businessmen. They also conspired to launder money for individuals they believed were engaged in narcotics trafficking and health care fraud.  

For example, in November 2016, Waltman, Hoopes, and Rafferty accepted a bribe of $1,000, as well as the promise of other fees, in exchange for Waltman, Hoopes, and Rafferty to use their positions as public officials to “fix” a traffic case before Waltman in Bucks County Magisterial District Court.

In addition, from June 2015 to November 2016, Waltman, Hoopes, and Rafferty conspired to launder funds represented to be proceeds from health care fraud, illegal drug trafficking, and bank fraud. From June 2016 to August 2016, Waltman, Hoopes, and Rafferty laundered $400,000 in cash, represented to be proceeds from health care fraud and illegal drug trafficking, and took money laundering fees totaling $80,000 in cash.

“The laws of the land apply to everyone – especially to public officials who hold office to serve the public good,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain.  “When public servants choose to flout the rule of law, they disgrace themselves and the offices they hold.  Every public official should be on notice after today’s sentence: federal law enforcement is watching and we will hold you accountable if you make the wrong choices.”

“A crooked judge trading on his position of trust is beyond disheartening,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “It's offensive. At every level, the justice system must operate in a fair and impartial manner. This is exactly the sort of case that deepens the public's distrust of elected officials and government, which is why the FBI takes public corruption so seriously.” 

“It is unacceptable for anyone, let alone an elected public official, to engage in such conduct,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Guy Ficco. “John Waltman betrayed the public’s trust when he accepted bribes in exchange for official acts. The sentence he received shows that there is no tolerance for such criminal behavior.”

“Today’s sentencing reflects Homeland Security Investigations’ commitment to, and focus on, the investigation of financial crimes,” said Marlon V. Miller, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Philadelphia. “By using his official position for his personal gain, Mr. Waltman violated the trust placed in him by the public.  HSI and our law enforcement partners will continue to vigorously investigate those who conspire to knowingly launder illicit funds derived from criminal activities.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Pennsylvania State Police. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Louis Lappen and Richard Barrett.


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Updated June 10, 2019

Public Corruption