A former Supreme Court Justice of the Third Judicial Circuit of the State of New York was charged today with attempted extortion and federal program bribery, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced. Thomas J. Spargo, 65 was charged in an indictment returned today by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of New York.
According to the indictment, while Spargo was a state Supreme Court Justice in 2003, he allegedly solicited $10,000 from an Ulster County, N.Y., attorney who had cases pending before the judge. The indictment further charges that Spargo solicited the money by causing the attorney to fear that Spargo would use his official acts and influence to harm the attorney if he was not paid and, conversely, to help the attorney if he was paid.
Spargo, who came to the bench after a high-profile career as an elections lawyer and Republican Party advocate, also was criticized for engaging in a range of prohibited political conduct. But the most serious charges, and the ones the commission said warranted his removal from the bench, centered on an allegedly escalating pattern of misconduct after he came under the watchdog agency's scrutiny for political misconduct.
Spargo first appeared on the commission's radar at a time when he was a part-time town justice and full-time elections lawyer and political consultant with deep ties to the GOP. In his role as advisor to the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush, Spargo was shown on national television partaking in a boisterous demonstration during the infamous Florida recount.
In addition, while sitting in town court, he presided over cases presented by the Albany County District Attorney's Office without disclosing on the record that the district attorney had been his client in a political matter and still owed him $10,000 in legal fees.
Then, while campaigning for Supreme Court in 2001, Spargo courted voters by giving out doughnuts and jugs of cider, buying rounds of drinks for all the patrons of a bar and handing out to potential voters $5 coupons to a convenience store.
In other words, your standard issue conservative Republican.