Former Fowler judge pleads guilty
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police on March 3 announced the guilty pleas of Paul M. Lamson, the former Judge for the Town of Fowler Justice Court in St. Lawrence County, for abusing his position as a judge by giving beneficial rulings to defendants that appeared before him in exchange for sexual favors.
Lamson last Friday entered guilty pleas before the Honorable Derek P. Champagne in St. Lawrence County Court, to the charges of bribe receiving in the third degree in violation of Penal Law § 200.10, a class “D” felony and official misconduct in violation of Penal Law § 195.00(1), a class “A” misdemeanor. As part of a plea agreement, the defendant is expected to be sentenced to two to six years in state prison.
“Judges who exploit their positions in exchange for sexual favors show blatant disregard for their victims, the trust of the general public, and the judicial system as a whole,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We will continue working with our partners in law enforcement to root out public corruption and hold those individuals responsible accountable.”
A joint investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Police revealed that Lamson had solicited defendants who had criminal cases pending before him in Fowler Town Court, to perform sexual favors and that in exchange for those sexual favors, Lamson agreed to use his authority as a judge to assist those defendants in their criminal cases. The investigation further revealed that Lamson did, in fact, issue favorable rulings for the benefit of those defendants.
“The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office received information that initiated multiple operations with the assistance of the NYS Violent Crime Investigative Unit and the investigators of the NYS Attorney General’s Office over several months,” said St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells. “Those operations yielded a successful arrest and conviction in a timely manner of Paul Lamson. The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office will continue to work with their law enforcement partners to combat this and other crimes in St. Lawrence County.”
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said: “It is deplorable for any entrusted public official to use their authority and public office to take advantage of others especially in this manner. Judge Lamson was appointed by the people in his community to uphold the law and used the very bench that he presided over to break the law himself and to victimize and manipulate the individuals he was sworn to protect through a fair judicial process. When a public official shows such a blatant disregard for the law it is particularly disturbing. No one is above the law and such abuse of power, especially when it involves abhorrent acts like this, will not be tolerated.”
Lamson was the Town Justice for the Town of Fowler Justice Court from 2006 to December 1, 2016, when he resigned.
On March 3, in St. Lawrence County Court, Lamson admitted to soliciting and accepting sexual favors from individuals who had pending criminal cases before him in the Town of Fowler Justice Court, upon an agreement or understanding that his judgment, action, decision and exercise of discretion as the Justice for the Town of Fowler Court, would be influenced with respect to those defendants’ cases.
The defendant further admitted that he did, in fact, provide favorable rulings on these defendants’ behalf.
For example, Lamson admitted that in exchange for sexual favors, he kept a defendant at liberty as opposed to sentencing that defendant to a period of incarceration. Lamson is expected to be sentenced to two to six years in state prison at the time of his sentencing on June 1, 2017.
On February, 24, the Attorney General announced the guilty plea of Delmar House, the former village justice for the Village of West Carthage Court in Jefferson County, for abusing his position as a judge by reducing a fine for a defendant who appeared before him in exchange for sexual favors, and by paying a portion of that defendant’s fines in exchange for additional sexual favors.
House pleaded guilty to bribe receiving in the third degree, and receiving a reward for official misconduct in the second degree, and is expected to be sentenced to up to six months’ incarceration and five years of probation.
Assistant Attorney General Mary Gorman is prosecuting this case and was assisted by Senior Analyst Joseph Conniff under the supervision of Public Integrity Bureau Chief Daniel G. Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The investigation was handled by Investigator David Buske of the Investigations Bureau, with support from Supervising Investigator Richard Doyle, Deputy Bureau Chief Antoine Karam, and Bureau Chief Dominick Zarrella.
The Attorney General acknowledgesthe St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the New York State Police and the New York State Office of Court Administration for their valuable assistance in this investigation. The joint investigation was conducted with Detective Sean O’Brien of the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office and Senior Investigator John Donahue of the New York State Police.