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Press Release

Former Bucks County Public Safety Officials Sentenced to 4 ½ and 1 ½ Years in Prison for Public Corruption

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

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced today that Robert Hoopes, 72, of Doylestown, PA, and Bernard Rafferty, 64, of Langhorne, PA were sentenced to 54 months’ and 18 months’ incarceration, respectively, by United States District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter.  In September 2018, Hoopes pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and Hobbs Act Extortion Under Color of Official Right.  In March 2018, Rafferty pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and honest services mail fraud.

From February 2016 until December 2016, Hoopes was the Director of Public Safety in Lower Southampton Township, Pennsylvania.  In this position, Hoopes had authority over all police, fire, and emergency operations in the township.  From 1992 until December 2016, Rafferty was a Deputy Constable in Bucks County.

Together with their co-defendants, including former Magisterial District Judge John Waltman who was sentenced to 78 months’ incarceration earlier this week, Hoopes and Rafferty 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, and illegal drug trafficking.  From June 2016 to August 2016, Waltman, Hoopes, and Rafferty specifically laundered $400,000 in cash 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.  “Hoopes and Rafferty, like their corrupt partner Waltman, chose to flout the rule of law.  In doing so, they disgraced themselves and the offices they held.  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.”

“Hoopes and Rafferty held positions of trust and were expected to protect and serve their community,” said Michael T. Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division. “Abandoning all pretense of ethics, they instead used their public roles for personal gain. They were willing to engage in what was clearly criminal behavior, so long as it benefitted their bank accounts. Such blatant corruption is toxic to the public trust, and the FBI is gratified these defendants are being held accountable.”

“Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with the likes of those who use fraud to line their pockets,” said Guy Ficco, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge. “Robert Hoopes and Bernard Rafferty disregarded the trust placed in them by the public when they made conscious decisions to accept bribes and launder money. Let this serve as a reminder that we will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who commit similar crimes.”

“This week’s sentencings 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 their official positions for personal gain, Mr. Hoopes, Mr. Rafferty, and Mr. Waltman violated the trust placed in them 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 14, 2019

Public Corruption