► Columbus Dispatch – 06/27/01 - 11th judge accused of fudging income Print E-mail

Columbus Dispatch – 06/27/01 - 11th judge accused of fudging income

Jon Craig – Dispatch Statehouse Reporter
 
A retired Franklin County Common Pleas judge yesterday became the 11th judge accused of criminal wrongdoing by a self-appointed watchdog.
 
Two misdemeanor criminal complaints were filed against Tommy L. Thompson of Worthington, charging he failed to disclose $19,650 in income the past two years as magistrate at Westerville Mayor's Court. A third complaint says Thompson failed to report $508 in travel expenses in 1999.
 
The complaints were filed in Franklin County Municipal Court by David Palmer of Powell, executive director of the Committee to Expose Dishonest and Incompetent Attorneys and Judges.
 
Thompson said it is "quite true" that he did not report his income from Westerville Mayor's Court.
 
"Quite frankly, it never occurred to me to list the city of Westerville," he said.
 
Magistrates are lawyers with authority to act as judges. They are required to file annual financial disclosure statements with the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline. Thompson filed the statements, but failed to itemize his income from Westerville.
 
Thompson called it "totally improper" and "asinine" for Palmer to file criminal charges.
 
"He's only doing it to embarrass the judiciary," Thompson said. "I just think Mr. Palmer should have the courtesy of advising these judges and call them up."
 
Palmer responded: "Maybe I'll call him up tomorrow and say, "This is the judicial watchdog. Woof, woof, woof, woof."
 
Thompson's court appearance is set for July 24. He plans to file amended financial statements with the Board of Commissions." "That was just another error and that will be corrected. That will be done promptly."
 
Last week, Palmer filed a complaint against former Supreme Court Justice J. Craig Wright, saying he failed to disclose $7,150 in pay last year as a magistrate in Whitehall. Wright's appearance is July 20.
 
Palmer previously filed 57 felony theft-in-office charges against nine visiting judges appointed by Ohio Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer. Palmer agreed to dismiss those charges temporarily May 30 pending further investigation by the Franklin County prosecutor's office.
 
Since Palmer began raising allegations about overbilling, more than $8,700 has been collected from appointed judges who were overpaid by the Supreme Court. The court this month asked state Auditor Jim Petro for an independent review of the system used to pay visiting judges.
 
Palmer said he also has complained to the Board of Commissioners that he found 43 days in 1999 and 2000 in which Thompson double-billed Westerville's court and the Franklin County court system as a visiting judge.
 

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