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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 3, 2009

Spargo found guilty, sentencing set for December

By Zach Simeone

ALBANY — Thomas Spargo, a former New York State Supreme Court Justice, was found guilty of two felony charges last Thursday, and is not planning to appeal.

“Right now, it’s unlikely we’ll appeal the jury’s verdict,” Spargo’s attorney E. Stewart Jones told The Enterprise this week. “We don’t presently see any grounds for doing so, but a final decision won’t be made until the entire sentencing process has run its course.”

Spargo is to be sentenced by United States District Court Judge Gary Sharpe on Monday, Dec. 21, 2009 at 1 p.m., though the date and time are subject to change, according to the court clerk’s office.

The statutory maximum for each crime is 20 years for extortion and 10 years for bribery, but these will not necessarily be imposed in the actual sentence, as the judge’s discretion is also a factor, according to the United States Department of Justice.

A prominent election-law attorney, Spargo will lose his license to practice. A jury deliberated for more than two hours last Wednesday and again Thursday morning at the United States District Court before reaching its verdict.

His case was rooted in a 1999 race for town justice in Berne, where Spargo lives. A republican, he won the race in a town dominated by Democrats.

But the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct said that Spargo spent money on food, drinks, or tokens to influence Berne residents to vote for him. He initially challenged the commission in federal court, arguing its allegation had to do with the exercise of his First Amendment liberties. He lost his challenge on appeal.

Spargo, who had been elected a judge in the Supreme Court — the lowest rung in the state’s three-tiered system — was removed from the bench.

In last week’s case, the prosecution convinced the jury that Spargo had orchestrated a plan to solicit funds from lawyers with cases before him in order to pay his own legal bills.

A number of attorneys, who joined Spargo for a luncheon at La Canard restaurant in Kingston in December of 2003, testified last week on their recollections of the luncheon. The prosecution alleged that attorney Sanford Rosenblum, a friend of Spargo, solicited money on Spargo’s behalf for a legal defense fund, created to help pay off Spargo’s legal bills for the federal lawsuit.


Editor’s note: Last week’s story on Thomas Spargo’s trial was also written by Zach Simeone, and is available online at www.altamontenterprise.com, under archives for Aug. 27, 2009.

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