Ex-Judge Gets Prison for Mishandling Son's Case

A former Philadelphia-area district judge who pleaded guilty to improper handling of a criminal citation against her son and later trying to conceal her actions didn’t get her wish of leniency. Instead a judge sentenced her to 16 to 32 months in prison.

Former magisterial district judge Rita Arnold pleaded guilty in Chester County to records tampering and obstruction of administration of law.

The Daily Local News of West Chester reported Arnold, 57, appeared stunned by Tuesday's sentence, which was much more severe than sentencing guidelines for the second-degree misdemeanors. Her attorney vowed an appeal.

Arnold, who used to preside over court in Downingtown, Chester County, Pa., concealed a citation issued to her son for 2 ½ months before putting it in the court system.

She had staffers keep a 2010 citation against her son out of the system in an effort to protect him from trouble with the county probation department then transferred the case to another judge without telling the county president judge about the conflict of interest, according to officials.

Arnold apologized in front of Judge John Braxton Tuesday and pleaded for leniency, saying she had had recently undergone a double mastectomy and now had cancer and needed chemotherapy.

Despite the plea for mercy, Braxton sentenced Arnold to up to 32 months in prison and ordered her officially removed from the bench, according to court records.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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