Disgraced ex-Arkansas judge, Joseph Boeckmann, has been handed a five-year sentence after admitting to giving young male defendants lighter sentences in exchange for sexual favors.
Joseph Boeckmann, 72, could have faced up to 260 years in jail if convicted on all 21 charges related to making deals with male defendants in exchange for sexual favors.
Instead, he pleaded guilty to committing mail fraud and witness tampering during his time as a judge.
Prosecutors asked for a three-year sentence and a $50,000 fine. Jeff Rosenzweig, Boeckmann’s attorney meanwhile, thought home detention would be better for 72-year-old “broken, ailing man.”
Clearly, presiding U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker didn’t agree. After hearing from witnesses, she said she had no choice but to impose a stiffer five-year penalty, which also includes a $50,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.
“He acted corruptly while serving as a judge. When his back was against the wall, he obstructed justice,” Baker said. “That sets his crime apart.”
During the trial, prosecutors noted that Boeckmann had been investigated for similar crimes while he was a part-time prosecutor back in the 1990s. At the time though, federal prosecutors decided not to charge him after he decided to step down in 1998.
Despite stepping down, Boeckmann was able to keep his law license. This allowed him to become a district judge in Wynne in eastern Arkansas, where he continued to barter sexual favors for leniency.
Seven Years of Misconduct as a Judge
Over a seven-year period, prosecutors say Boeckmann may have exchanged sexual favors for lighter sentences with perhaps hundreds of men. Typically, the judge would dismiss traffic citations and misdemeanors in exchange for “community service.”
After each hearing, Boeckmann would call the defendants up to his bench where he would give them his personal phone number, telling them to call and arrange the so-called community service.
The community service generally required young men to pick up aluminum cans or litter off the ground. While they were bending down, he would ask them to pose suggestively and take pictures. In some cases, the defendants would engage in sexually related conduct.
In all, Boeckmann was accused of taking thousands of lewd pictures of young male defendants posing naked or being paddled on their bare behinds. In return, he paid for their fines from his personal accounts.
Blindsided, the young men would comply, “not knowing what truly lay in store,” Peter Halpern, trial attorney for the Department of Justice, wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
A Predator Who Took Advantage of Vulnerable Young Men
Halpern called Boeckmann in his sentencing memo, “a predator who used his position as a judge to gain access to vulnerable young men in order to satisfy his own prurient desires.”
Halpern also said the Boekmann used “the men’s powerlessness and poor socioeconomic circumstances to create a personal collection of explicit, exploitative images.”
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, Boeckmann “admitted that the corrupt use of his office defrauded various cities and counties in Arkansas, as well as the State of Arkansas and the Arkansas courts, of money and property that they should have received as fines or fees from the individuals whose cases were fraudulently dismissed.”