Judge Forced To Resign
- Guilty Plea Forces Ex-judge To Resignhttp://www.azcentral.com/news/0620lamb.shtml
By Jim Walsh
The Arizona Republic, June 20, 2000
http://www.azcentral.com/A former Chandler justice of the peace struck a plea deal Monday to trade his robes for prison khakis, his punishment for selling bogus insurance policies to truck drivers.
J. Brian Lamb, 40, faces up to three years behind bars under his guilty plea to federal charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud. The charges carried terms of up to 15 years. The deal also requires him to resign from the bench.
Though the brief court appearance marked Lamb's first admission of guilt, he made no apologies and even asked U.S. District Judge Stephen McNamee not to delay the scheduled August sentencing.
"My family has suffered enough," Lamb told the judge. "I'd like it as soon as possible so my children don't have to deal with this from their classmates."
Lamb, who has sat in judgment on the Chandler Justice Court since 1995, admitted ripping off truck drivers from 1993 to 1998 by selling them bogus policies in the names of legitimate and fictitious companies.
The ultimate victims were drivers and passengers injured in accidents with truckers who bought the bogus policies, including a paralyzed man and a badly burned man. Lamb paid some small claims but ignored large claims, according to court records.
The plea was anticipated because Lamb's three co-conspirators already had struck deals with federal prosecutors. Darin Tarwarter, a close friend of Lamb and his family, and Laura Palacios had agreed to testify against him.
Lamb was accused of laundering the premiums he collected through Antigua. He admitted on Monday that he cashed checks at a Phoenix market using a fictitious name. Lamb then divvied up profits with Tarwarter, Palacios and Nelly Herrera,
who has pleaded guilty to fraud in Canada. Authorities charged Lamb with stealing $1.5 million, but he is taking responsibility for restitution of $2.5 million to $5 million.
All additional funds seized from Lamb, including the proceeds from sale of his spacious home near Chandler, will be distributed to victims.
Lamb was suspended after his February 1999 arrest, but had still been collecting his $75,000 to $80,000 yearly salary until Monday's plea. "Until he's convicted, there's a presumption of innocence," said Presiding Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Myers.
"The Board of Supervisors had to suck it up and pay two judges in the same precinct at the same time."
Pro Tem Judge Ron Johnson has been filling in for Lamb since his arrest. A new judge to fill out the two years left on Lamb's term will be appointed by the supervisors.
"The germ of destruction of our nation is in the power of the judiciary..." -- Thomas Jefferson, 1821J.A.I.L. (Judicial Accountability Initiative Law)
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