Corrupt Judge Pleads Guilty

Former Housing Court Judge Arthur R. Scott — the center of a bribery scandal that rocked the courts in 1994 — pleaded guilty Feb. 20 to charges that he took money in exchange for favorable rulings.The judge, ousted from the bench last October for lying on his 1992 judicial renomination forms, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of bribery, grand larceny by extortion, and fraud. He will be sentenced May 22 and faces a probable 2-1/2 to 7-1/2 years in prison. Three of the charges are felonies, which means that he will also be disbarred as a lawyer.

Scott, 49, had been a Housing Court judge since 1983. He was arrested in late 1994 after allegations that he had been taking bribes sparked an undercover investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Undercover agents posing as a landlord and a building manager were able to bribe the judge in three cases, and he was eventually charged with taking payoffs in over 20 more. Some of the bribes were disguised as contributions to a campaign-finance committee.

Three of Scott’s co-defendants have also pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges. Euclid S. Watson, the judge’s middleman, will be sentenced April 2 and is expected to receive one year in prison for grand larceny by extortion. Landlord Jonathan Jacobs, who admitted bribing the judge, was fined $10,000 and has to clear up all violations in his buildings; landlord Sampson Ward will get probation. Lawyer Barry Goldrod has been disbarred, but was given probation in exchange for telling prosecutors about cases in which he bribed Scott, according to the New York Law Journal.