Massachusetts Judge Cheryl Ann Jacques is facing a bizarre misdemeanor larceny charge for allegedly misrepresenting the features of a combination crib-and-playpen set she sold on Craigslist. Jacques, 50 sold the Graco Pack ’n Play to Tracey Christopher, 39, for $75. It sells for roughly $150 new. Christopher insisted that there were parts missing but that Jacques refused to return her money. On both this allegation and a prior ethics charge, the level of scrutiny does not appear (in my view) justified by the underlying allegations.
Jacques is an administrative judge with the state Department of Industrial Accidents. She served six terms in the Massachusetts Senate (notably she was succeeded in the state Senate by Scott Brown) and addressed the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
She could now face a year in jail and a $300 fine for the Craigslist matter.
Christopher says that Jacque told her that the set came with a vibrating pad and was in good working order. It didn’t and it wasn’t. Yet, when Christopher says that she asked for her money back, Jacques allegedly said”‘I’m not a store. I don’t take returns.”
If true, it sounds like a pretty unreasonable position, but does it warrant a larceny charge? Her lawyer says that Christopher examined the box contents before taking it and only later said that something was missing. I fail to see how that makes the standard for a criminal charge since the box was removed after inspection from the premises.
The lawyer says that Jacque is now willing to refund the money — a bit late of course and it will now cost her a lot more than $75.
This is the not first run in with an ethical issue for Jacques. However, I am again unsure as to the basis for the possible ethics charge. On March 12, 2012, she was charged by the State Ethics Commission with violating Massachusetts’ conflict-of-interest law for allegedly trying to use her position as a judge to have a dentist office reduce her brother-in-law’s bill. In that case, Jacques reported appeared at the office and identified herself as a judge and demanded that the entire bill be waived even after the dentist offered to take hundreds of dollars off the $1000 balance. She reportedly threatened to report the office to the state attorney general and to call the insurance company.
Once again, the conduct is problematic. However, is simply identifying yourself as a judge enough for such a charge? The news accounts show her objecting to the treatment of her relative and making threats that any consumer could make in such a circumstance. She says that it was her brother-in-law who first identified her as a judge, though she admits that she did identify herself as such to the receptionist (which she admits was a mistake). This allegation triggered a five-month investigation in a case that is still pending. I respect the concern over alleged abuse of judicial office, but I am a bit surprised to see how far this charge was taken.
Jacques website heralded her as “a national leader in the gay civil rights movement . . . [and] the first openly gay State Senator in Massachusetts history.” Her bio says “Jacques lives with her spouse Jennifer, who serves as Executive Director of the Family Equality Council the nation’s largest organization dedicated exclusively to gay families. They live in Boston, Massachusetts, where they are raising their twin boys, Timmy and Tommy.”
Attorney Leonard Kesten is representing the judge in both cases. She may want to consider just putting him under retainer.