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Press Release

Indictment Charges Second Municipal Court Judge In Corruption Scheme

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

PHILADELPHIA – Joseph O’Neill, 65, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was charged today by indictment with making false statements to the FBI during an investigation of potential wrongdoing in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, announced United States Attorney Zane David Memeger. O’Neill is a judge on the Philadelphia Municipal Court.


According to the indictment, then-Municipal Court Judge Joseph Waters, charged elsewhere, called O’Neill about a civil small claims case that was scheduled for a hearing before O’Neill.  In an ex parte conversation, Waters told O’Neill that the defendant in the small claims case was a friend and asked O’Neill to “take a hard look at it.”  When the FBI later interviewed O’Neill about the ex parte conversation, O’Neill denied having been contacted by anyone in advance of the hearing on the small claims case to ask for a favor.  It is further alleged that in a follow-up interview, O’Neill denied that anyone had contacted him in advance of the hearing and told him the defendant in the small claims case was a friend of the caller.


If convicted, O’Neill faces a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a possible fine, up to three years of supervised release, and a $200 special assessment.


The case was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Chief of the Public Corruption Unit Richard P. Barrett and Assistant United States Attorney Michelle L. Morgan.

An Indictment is an accusation.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated March 2, 2016

Public Corruption