Pa. Judge Accused of Bilking Insurers to Take His Defense to Trial

October 2, 2007

Suspended Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Michael T. Joyce intends to stand trial on federal money laundering and mail fraud charges, according to his lawyer.

Attorney David Ridge refused to comment on the defense strategy, but said Joyce would “absolutely” go to trial.

Prosecutors accuse Joyce, 58, of bilking two insurance companies out of $440,000 in an automobile accident claim. Joyce has pleaded not guilty.

Ridge had a Sept. 29 deadline to file pretrial motions, but prosecutors agreed to extend it until Nov. 28.

In court documents, Ridge said he needs the additional time to review the prosecution’s evidence, including records and medical reports.

The case stems from an August 2001 traffic accident just outside Erie, where Joyce’s 2001 Mercedes-Benz was rear-ended by a sport-utility vehicle traveling about 5 mph, prosecutors said.

Joyce told insurers the accident left him in such pain that he was unable to exercise or play golf for more than a year, prosecutors said. The indictment alleges Joyce was actually playing 18-hole rounds on courses as far away as Jamaica, going scuba diving and inline skating, and working out at a local gym.

Joyce received $390,000 from his insurer, the Erie Insurance Group, and $50,000 from State Farm Insurance, which insured the other driver, according to the indictment.

The state Supreme Court last month suspended Joyce from all judicial and administrative duties, but he continues to receive his $165,342 salary and full benefits. Senior Judge Fred P. Anthony was named to temporarily take over Joyce’s duties.

A former Erie County judge, Joyce was elected to the Superior Court in 1997. After he was indicted, Joyce abandoned plans to seek a second 10-year term in the November election.


Information from: Erie Times-News,

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.