Georgia Judge Pleads Guilty To Felony Theft — Eighth State Judge To Leave Bench For Corruption

WiseGeorgia Camden County Probate Judge Shirley Wise has pleaded guilty to three felony charges and resigned her judgeship this week — the state’s eighth jurist to leave office for misconduct. What is astonishing is the decision to allow Wise to avoid any jail time given her confession to theft by taking, theft by deception, and violation of her oath of office.

Wise, 56, accepted a plea agreement offered by special prosecutor Brian M. Rickman, to serve seven years on probation on the theft counts and five years’ probation on the violation of oath of office count — to be served concurrently. She will also pay a $1,000 fine and make $5,500 restitution to the county. That is a remarkably generous deal given the allegations originally brought against her.

Rickman insists that the plea was motivated in part because Probate Judge Martin Gillette was deemed the victim in the case and refused to assist the prosecution, Gillette was considered the victim because some of the fees that Wise took should have gone to Gillette. However, he refused to help the prosecution and did not want Wise charged. I fail to understand why a public corruption case would turn on whether another judge is willing to cooperate with prosecutors. It is equally remarkable to read about a judge refusing to assist the state in the prosecution.

The allegations against Wise are extremely serious. The prosecutors insist that Probate Court employee Patsy Kennedy was hired to reorganize the office’s vital records vault to increase the capacity. Between May 2009 and August 2010, Kennedy did the work and billed the county $11,250 as a contractor. Wise allegedly got $5,500 of the money paid to Kennedy. That is an astonishing criminal act for a judge and people routinely go to jail for stealing a fraction of that value.

Wise is accused of inducing the submission of false invoices for the kickbacks. She also instructed a court employee forge Gillette’s signature on a documents and in another case to cut Gillette’s signature from a document and affix it to another document.

She is also accused of accepting cash payments for vital record filings and keeping the money. She was accused of later shredding or destroying the original receipts that were evidence of the payments.

I am flabbergasted that no jail time was required for such corruption. I am also shocked by the position of Gillette who will continue as a judge. He seemed entirely unaffected by the range of criminal conduct alleged in the case and unconcerned by the implications of a judge refusing to assist the prosecution. He stated “I lost my chief clerk, I lost my assistant judge, I lost my election manager, I lost my chief [vital records] register all at one lick.’’

Gillette has a long history with Wise, who he hired to work as chief clerk the day he took office 20 years ago. He called her work “excellent.” Well, except for that little kickback thing, I assume.

As for Wise, her lawyer insisted that she pleaded guilty out of concern for the taxpayer and “did this for the mitigation of expenses to Camden County and taxpayers.” Given the generosity of this plea, I would have thought it was to avoid a long jail sentence.

Both Gillette and Rickman have much to explain in the case. I do not blame Wise’s lawyer for securing a great deal or Wise in accepting it. I just fail to understand why it was offered or how a sitting judge could refuse to cooperate with prosecutors in a judicial corruption case regardless of his personal feelings. I do not understand why Gillette believed no charges should be brought in the case given Wise’s confession and the facts cited in the charges. Either she accepted kickbacks or did not. If she did, I cannot understand how a sitting judge could refuse to cooperate as suggested by Rickman.

The case creates a serious problem of the appearance of favoritism when prosecutors seek jail terms for thieves in cases involving a few hundred dollars while a judge guilty of kickbacks worth thousands is allowed to avoid any jail time. Stealing a flat screen television involves far less planning than a kickback scheme coupled with alleged forgery and destruction of evidence.

Source: AJC

24 thoughts on “Georgia Judge Pleads Guilty To Felony Theft — Eighth State Judge To Leave Bench For Corruption”

  1. ” While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free. ”

    Eugene V. Debs

    Everyone’s a criminal, whether they confess to being one or not.

  2. This is entirely consistent with my personal experiences that any time there is evidence of judicial corruption there is a major cover up. Even after former judge Nottingham was revealed to have been a long time user of prostitution services and that there is reason to believe that someone else was probably paying Nottingham’s expenses for hookers and strippers, the 10th Circuit resisted recognition of the most basic facts, like attorney fees were awarded without motions violating Rule 54(2)(a) or an order identifying the sanctioned conduct violating Rule 11(c)(6). In my first appeal, they wouldn’t even acknowledge that Nottingham was the assigned judge and wrote the order dismissing my claims, they claimed that the magistrate was the assigned adjudicator. DOJ also avoided releasing any information about the owners of the debit and credit cards used by the Denver Players prostitution operation where Nottingham was named by the Denver press as a prostitution consumer, lawyers and law firms were named as payers, and there is some gossip to the effect that Nottingham wasn’t the only judicial customer. DOJ has all those records because of its prosecution of Brenda McLeod and I’d think that a news organization could get the records.

    Accountants do expose other accountants fraud and physicians will identify medical malpractice even though they also have loyalty to their profession. There are two possible explanations that I know of:

    1) DOJ very rarely prosecutes or even investigates any sort of obstruction of justice because It doesn’t want to take any chance of reopening criminal convictions.

    2) There is a lot of money being made in insuring attorneys and prosecutors by foreign companies that aren’t being regulated in the U.S. This has been going on a long time. I have an affidavit by Hall & Evans that Lloyds of London insured my defendants and paid for their defense. According to the Hall & Evans bill, Lloyds paid for a discussion of case assignment issues and there was a fax about case assignment issues. Then a few months later my case was transferred directly to Nottingham without going through random reassignment. And at that time Nottingham was already a regular consumer of prostitution services, according to the Denver Press — 9 News, Denver Post. The 10th Circuit has a local rule that requires identification of any insurer but Hall & Evans did not identify Lloyds as an insurer except by sending them bills that it also sent to me. The Colorado Division of Insurance showed Lloyds as a reinsurer only, not as a seller of insurance directly to individuals. Apparently Kentucky is the only state in which Lloyds is authorized to sell insurance directly to individuals. There are other companies based off shore that sell U.S. Attorneys professional insurance, I have web site records and an annual report if anyone wants them. Anyway, my theory is that these companies developed a web of corruption involving paying off state insurance regulators and paying off judges by paying protection money through the clerks of court who would then manipulate the case assignments and funnel the money to the judges. I think they supplemented the payoffs with blackmail by collecting info on use of prostitutes and drugs by judges and also by their families. If this is wide spread then there is a whole network of judges who have a vested interest in continuing the cover up. You have to remember that the first blogs only came out in late 2006, while I was a federal prisoner on Nottingham’s order without a criminal charge, an evidentiary hearing or a bail hearing. Blogs are the way that we transmit information about judicial corruption. Blogging allows individuals to publish. So my theory is that the system for judicial payoffs was developed in the years preceding blogging and that they didn’t anticipate blogging as a means of exposure of criminal acts.

    The ABA is also involved with these foreign insurance companies. That would explain why the ABA would freak out when I sued them and why they hired Carolyn Lamm as my opposing counsel, with her going rate of $900/hour, at the same time that they are claiming that I am practically retarded. If my claims were so frivolous, why not give a new lawyer some experience instead of hiring one of the most expensive and influential lawyers in the country…..? Lamm filed a motion claiming that there was res judicata even though there was no opinion written, no decision on the merits and not even an answer ever filed in Nottingham’s case, District of Colorado 02-1950, and DOJ at the request of the lawyer billing LLoyds, David Brougham, kept me locked in a dungeon with no law library or Internet access so that I couldn’t find Caribbean Broadcasting System Ltd and Alvin L Korngold v. Cable & Wireless PLC, or Geraldine Harris v. Secretary, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs et al, the controlling opinions in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

    Malisha, your comment about marginalized, mistreated pro se litigant, like me, is really logical because pro se litigants go further than lawyers because their complaints are so important to them. Lawyers have many complaints and they only need to win a portion of them to make a good living so they are financially motivated to ignore the corruption so they can get continue to make money in the system. This explains also the outrageous treatment of pro se litigants, the idea that we will be beaten basically to death and the corruption evidence will die with us.

  3. This is astonishing?
    This is astonishing?
    To whom, pray, can this be astonishing? To someone who has not been witness to ANYTHING in our court system for, say, the last couple hundred years? To him or her?
    To Polyanna of Sunnybrook Farm perhaps?

    Not only does this judge have something on EVERYONE else involved or uninvolved, but if she didn’t have it, she could easily manufacture it. And so could I!

    What is the court system really obligated to do? Where is its accountability?

    Open up her cases, ALL HER CASES since she has been on the Bench. Look closely into what has gone on. Bet me, BET ME, that she hasn’t been doing every kind of evil on the Bench, and all for her own benefit. BET ME! And look to see if there is some marginalized, mistreated pro se litigant in her past who filed motion after writ after complaint after petition to have her recused, removed, investigated; look for it; perhaps it will take a half hour to find but it won’t take an HOUR!

    You can bet that she has been working with the other judges and officials in that courthouse and in the courts above her in the state to do every kind of calumny and miscreant behavior. And she had big guns behind her.

    This only stinks to high heaven because there is poor ventilation.

  4. yes, something else is going on. There should be jail time for the one exposed and at least removal from the bench for obstruction for the other, pending investigation and further charges.

  5. “Ever think that there is a ‘nother can of worms they don’t want opened in which the judge in question is a co-conspirator?”


    This was exactly my thought as I read this piece.


    Yes there was so much argument about Illinois corruption, based on flawed research. People forget about many Southern climes.

    In general I would offer this all too true evaluation of the world around us”

    “All Animals are Equal,
    Some Aimals are more Equal than others”.l

  6. “What is astonishing is the decision to allow Wise to avoid any jail time given her confession to theft by taking, theft by deception, and violation of her oath of office.”

    “What is astonishing is the decision to allow Wise to avoid any jail time given her confession to theft by taking, theft by deception, and violation of her oath of office.”

    Pardon me, Pardona mia, Mr. Turley have you lost your mind? Are, are you ought of words? Most of your articles these days reverberate around the disgusting United States Judiciary! Why don’t we talk about the real reasons why the filth is there? And has this filth not tripled since September 29, 2005? Of-course it has and resoundingly so!
    The tone and tenor of an organization reflects, reflects its boss at the top! Am I saying that Roberts is aware of all the Corruption? No! That would be insane! I am saying that under his regime, a climate of Corruption and immorality has flourished!
    Indeed it is the present United States Supreme Court that (not only in its rulings which denounces the United States Constitution FOR {T}HE PEOPLE), but the kind of quiet and dirty sleaze of providing coverage for crimes of State attorneys whom they know and condoned to be perverted and in violation of the experiment started by the Founding fathers…who were not perfect, but that’s for another day!
    The United States Supreme Court and the present justices under the dictates of a totally degenerate and treasonous Roberts is a threat to America. Because of this one man (who has the capability to elucidate the Mission of his branch of the Government…to send electronic and penned memos to all Courts within the land) that THEY MUST UPHOLD THE LAW! NOT MERELY HAVE IT ENGRAVED IN DECORATIVE EDIFICES UPON THEIR WALLS i.e. THE FIRST CIRCUS COURT IN BOSTON!
    How can you ever respect a Court that indulges in contraries to the LAW! A criminal bunch of thugs! Despotic demons in-line with Satan’s plan? And so Johnny boy does not care! As the result of this, the message is being sent all across the country to local and State officials that “anything goes!”
    There is nothing, nada, astonishing about this Judges senior allowing her to walk away: Only the Judiciary in the United States of America commits crimes and walk away! People, they are accountable to no-one! You need to wake up, retire the Complacency! Write, demonstrate by the millions, start many organizations calling for the head of Johnny r. Not the guillotine, but the impeachment head, the out of office Goodbye, Good riddance to rubbish head!

  7. And we hear claims that Illinois is the most corrupt state? Prof. Turley is correct that this felon should be in jail and the judge who refused to cooperate should be off the bench in a heartbeat. That would make 9 judges and there are still a couple of weeks left in the year!

  8. I suspect that Gillette saw a sharper blade coming his way and did the Wise thing.

  9. Ever think that there is a ‘nother can of worms they don’t want opened in which the judge in question is a co-conspirator? Sounds like those 4 people have something having over the uncooperating judge’s head.

  10. Its the US multi-tier legal “justice” system in action. The “elites” are not punished for crimes that net minorities and have-nots years in jail.

  11. Seems like another one of those “who you know” deals but … isn’t Gillette, in refusing to help, either aiding and abetting or obstructing?

    As to what JT alluded, would Gillette be willing to act in this manner towards someone who broke into his house or stole his car? He’s pretty much announced to the underworld that “what is mine, is yours … come and get it”.

  12. Dredd is so right.

    I guess Georgians are lucky she didn’t get a medal for being so concerned about the tax payer that she took this platinum plea!

  13. Wait! This is happening in Georgia?!? Why who would have thought that a shining beacon of good governance and enlightened thought could harbor such as these? Next you’ll try to convince me that there are shady deals in contract issued by the government of Louisiana.

  14. As an elected official didn’t she sign the oath to take as much as she could get before getting caught…..

    Like mespo s response….

  15. I am flabbergasted … I am also shocked …

    Understandable, because this poisons the well in the sense that it brings more disgrace to the profession.

    People who are literally poisoning the well don’t even receive probation:

    Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation’s drinking water.

    (Poisoning the Well). One of these daze we are going to wake up to realize that psychopaths are literally running the show before our very eyes.

  16. One can only hope Gillette is removed by voters in support of a judicial candidate of more integrity. It would be difficult to have less.

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