The Albany Times Union by ROBERT GAVIN - December 21, 2009
ALBANY, NY -- Former state Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo was sentenced today to more than 2 years in federal prison for trying to shake down attorneys and solicit a $10,000 bribe to pay mounting legal bills. U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe imposed the 27-month sentence on the 66-year-old Republican, a one-time pre-eminent Republican election law attorney, during a 1 p.m. court appearance. He will report to prison on Feb. 9. Sharpe did not impose a fine. Spargo was found guilty in August of attempted extortion and attempted bribery. He faced a maximum of 20 years on the attempted extortion count, 10 years for attempted bribery but federal sentencing guidelines call for a range of 33 to 41 months in prison. Spargo also faced a fine as high as $75,000 and supervised release after serving time in prison. Sharpe agreed to depart from the sentencing guidelines to impose the reduced amount of prison time. The judge said Spargo's crimes fell into a lesser category. The U.S. Justice Department, which brought the case using a prosecutor from a Washington, D.C.-based public integrity unit, called for a sentence of 41 months and $75,000 fine. Spargo's attorney, E. Stewart Jones, asked for a sentence below federal guidelines and, if possible, no fine. Spargo won a 14-year term to state Supreme Court in 2001 after being cross-endorsed. Spargo's chambers were in Albany, but he presided over cases in Ulster County, which is within the state's Third Judicial District. In 2002, Spargo faced accusations of ethical violations from the state Commission on Judicial Conduct that were unrelated to his future bench removal and criminal case. He was indicted a year ago on charges he attempted to extort attorneys to offset his legal costs. Spargo, convicted on Aug. 27, was recently disbarred because of the conviction. The Times Union reported Saturday that several Capital Region lawyers and others wrote character letters on Spargo's behalf to Sharpe. Reach Robert Gavin at 434-2403 or email@example.com.
The New York Law Journal by Joel Stashenko - December 22, 2009
ALBANY, NY - Former state Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Spargo was sentenced today to 27 months in federal prison for attempting to extort donations from lawyers doing business in the upstate court where he sat. Northern District Judge Gary Sharpe said that, whether through "venality" or "misplaced exuberance," Mr. Spargo was responsible for attempting to secure contributions of up to $10,000 from local lawyers for a fund to pay Mr. Spargo's legal defenses during the ex-judge's bitter dispute over campaign activities with the Commission on Judicial Conduct "This is extortion," Judge Sharpe told Mr. Spargo. "This is threatening people who appeared before you with harm." Judge Sharpe continued, "For a judge, there is nothing more reprehensible." Mr. Spargo, 66, of East Berne, Albany County, faced a maximum prison sentence of between 33 months and 41 months for his federal conviction in August of attempted bribery and soliciting a bribe (NYLJ, Aug. 28). Judge Sharpe said he was departing somewhat from federal sentencing guidelines because Mr. Spargo did not appear to have engaged in any "systematic" or "concerted" criminal enterprise. Mr. Spargo was a Supreme Court justice from 2002 until his removal in 2006 on the recommendation of the conduct commission. Mr. Spargo's attorney, E. Stewart Jones of Troy, said the former judge would serve, at most, 85 percent of his 27-month sentence and that he would recommend that Mr. Spargo spend his time at a minimum-security federal penitentiary closest to the Albany area. Mr. Jones said that Mr. Spargo would not appeal his conviction.
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