A Pennsylvania judge stands accused of a serious judgmental lapse for using more than $4k of his campaign funds to feed an out-of-control gambling habit.
Don’t judge: Michael J. Cabry III has been charged by a statewide grand jury with serious offenses related to gambling with his campaign funds. (Image: MediaNews Group)
According to prosecutors, Magisterial District Judge Michael J. Cabry III gambled a total of $110,700 in 2017 at the Hollywood Casino in Pennsylvania, Bally’s Atlantic City in New Jersey, and Dover Downs in Delaware. And he would have blown the lot but for a lucky $100k win at Dover Downs, which meant that he lost just over $9k for the year. But that figurative get-out-of-jail card was not enough to get him out of a literal jail.
Cabry was arrested Tuesday and charged by a statewide grand jury with one felony count of theft by unlawful taking, a single count of perjury, and four violations of campaign finance laws.
As the judge himself presumably knows only too well, this can result in a prison sentence of up to seven years and a maximum fine of $15k.
“Judge Cabry broke the law and undermined public trust in government by using campaign contributions for his own benefit,” Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro said in a press release Wednesday.
“Restricting how campaign money can be used helps prevent corruption,” he continued. “As a candidate and public official, Judge Cabry had a duty to serve with integrity and uphold the law. Instead, he took advantage of the trust placed in him by supporters and the public.”
Bank records showed the judge’s finances were “severely depleted” when he dipped into the campaign funds, despite earning a yearly salary of $93,338.
The siphoned $4k was accumulated via numerous ATM transactions disguised in expenses reports as “reimbursements,” despite not corresponding with any of the judge’s legitimate expenditures.
For example, an ATM withdrawal of $205 at the Hollywood Casino was listed simply as “reimbursement for Harrisburg.”
According to his bank records, Cabry was hitting Delaware Park at least once a week during 2017.
‘Citizens for Cabry’
Cabry first won his seat in 2000. Until he was recently relieved of his duties, he had jurisdiction over municipalities in the northwestern portion of Pennsylvania’s Chester County. He handled minor criminal and traffic offenses and oversaw preliminary hearings for cases later referred to county court.
The alleged infractions occurred during his reelection campaign in November 2017, when he ran unopposed. His campaign involved the establishment of “Citizens for Cabry,” a political action committee operated by his niece.
A preliminary hearing has been set for Oct. 26. Cabry has been freed on his own recognizance with no bail, pending the hearing.
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