Pa. Judge Allegedly Pilfered Campaign For Gambling Sprees

Law360 (October 7, 2020, 4:53 PM EDT) -- A Philadelphia-area judge was criminally charged Wednesday with pilfering thousands of dollars from his campaign coffers to fund gambling sprees and pay for personal expenses, the state attorney general said.

Judge Michael Cabry III, who presides over a magisterial district court in Chester County, faces charges of theft and election code violations after allegedly withdrawing money from his campaign account at casinos in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

"Judge Cabry broke the law and undermined public trust in government by using campaign contributions for his own benefit, " Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. "Restricting how campaign money can be used helps prevent corruption. As a candidate and public official, Judge Cabry had a duty to serve with integrity and uphold the law, instead he took advantage of the trust placed in him by supporters and the public."

Judge Cabry was first elected to the magisterial district court bench — which handles small civil cases, landlord-tenant disputes and arraignments in criminal matters — in 2000, and was recently reelected to another six-year term in November 2017.

As he began his last reelection campaign, Judge Cabry established a political action committee — Citizens for Cabry — in 2016 to collect contributions from supporters, Shapiro's office said.

A grand jury, however, was presented with evidence that a debit card linked to Judge Cabry's campaign account was used to purchase groceries, laundry services, hotel stays and that it was used for several cash withdrawals at casinos.

Shapiro said the card had been used to withdraw hundreds of dollars at a time at casinos throughout Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In addition to the ATM withdrawals, Shapiro said Judge Cabry used the card to fund a $500 hotel stay at Dover Downs Casino in Delaware.

Shapiro said Judge Cabry failed to file requisite campaign finance reports with the state's Department of State.

A preliminary hearing in the judge's case has been scheduled for the end of the month.

Shapiro said both the FBI and the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, which is responsible for bringing ethics charges against state judges, had been involved in the investigation.

An attorney for Judge Cabry declined to comment Wednesday.

Cabry is represented by Dawson Muth of Lamb McErlane PC.

The case is being prosecuted by Megan Madaffai of the office of attorney general.

The case is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Michael Cabry III, case number MJ-15203-CR-0000181-2020, before Magisterial District Judge 15-2-03.

--Editing by Stephen Berg.

For a reprint of this article, please contact reprints@law360.com.

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