Former Ark. Judge Accused of Giving Lenient Sentences in Exchange for Sexual Favors

O. Joseph Boeckmann, 70, was arrested Monday and indicted in federal court on multiple counts of wire fraud, bribery and witness tampering. 

O. Joseph Boeckmann
O. Joseph Boeckmann Pulaski County (Ark.) Sheriff’s Office via AP

A former Arkansas judge has been arrested and accused of giving lenient sentences to male defendants in exchange for sexual favors he allegedly referred to as “community service,” the Washington Post reports.

O. Joseph Boeckmann, 70, a former district court judge from Wayne, Ark., who was removed from his post earlier this year, was taken into custody Monday and was indicted in federal court on multiple counts of wire fraud, bribery and witness tampering, the report notes.

Boeckmann, who became a district judge in Cross County, Ark., in 2009, is accused of dismissing traffic citations and misdemeanor charges against nine defendants, ages 16 to 22, in exchange for nude photos.

As a judge, Boeckman told defendants to wait after their court sessions so he could talk to them alone, authorities said. He then called the defendants up to his bench and told them he’d dismiss their charges in exchange for “community service.” Boeckmann allegedly gave defendants his personal phone number and told them to call it to arrange the terms of the “services,” authorities said.

According to the indictment, the “community service” involved collecting aluminum cans or litter and bringing them to Boeckmann’s house, where he then took photos of the defendants in “compromising positions.”

In one incident, Boeckmann allegedly offered to throw out a defendant’s charges if he performed labor at the judge’s house. He then told that same defendant, who was facing several traffic citations and charges for misdemeanor crimes over a four-year period, that he would dismiss the case if he let Boeckmann take photos of him naked while masturbating or being spanked, authorities charged.

According to the Post, Boeckmann has been charged with eight counts of wire fraud for allegedly dismissing fines, fees and court costs that the defendants were meant to pay, as well as covering up his conduct by falsifying court records and trying to threaten and bribe witnesses.

Boeckmann was being held in the Pulaski County Detention Center, according to a jail roster, the Post reports.

A lawyer for the Justice Department, Jonathan Kravis, said during Monday’s arraignment hearing that one of the defendants told prosecutors that Boeckmann ordered another individual to offer the witness money to recant his testimony, and that the witness was told that he could “disappear” if he didn’t.

According to the report, Boeckmann’s indictment follows a monthslong investigation by the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disciplinary Commission, which announced the judge’s permanent removal in May. Boeckmann promised never to seek employment in government—local, county or state—in a resignation letter, authorities said.

The disciplinary commission found that Boeckmann had a history of offering “community service” options to young, male defendants and their relatives. He is also accused of reducing the $50,000 bond of a woman named Crystal Avellino, who was charged with theft and abuse of an endangered or impaired person. Records indicate that Boeckmann had a sexual relationship with Avellino’s brother and that Avellino also worked for Boeckmann’s sister.

Starting from when he was a lawyer, Boeckmann was in a yearslong sexual relationship with a former client, identified as A.A., who was arrested on methamphetamine charges back in 2001, authorities said. Boeckmann allegedly asked if A.A. “was good-looking” before agreeing to represent him.

A.A. slept and stayed in Boeckmann’s house from 2006 to 2011, according to the records, and during their relationship, Boeckmann bought him two vehicles and a boat, as well as paid for his family’s rent, utility bills and grocery for as long as the relationship lasted.

According to the Post, it is not clear whether A.A. is one of the male defendants named in the federal indictment.

Read more at the Washington Post