- Associated Press - Thursday, May 12, 2016

WYOMISSING, Pa. (AP) - A judge in Pennsylvania stole more than $113,000 from his office and the volunteer fire company where he served as treasurer, the attorney general said Thursday.

Wyomissing District Judge Timothy Dougherty, 56, was supposed to surrender on theft charges, but was instead taken to Reading Hospital from his judicial office with an unspecified medical problem. A hospital spokeswoman told The Associated Press that Dougherty’s condition was still being evaluated.

Berks County President Judge Paul Yatron said he was told that Dougherty fell and hit his head and was taken away in an ambulance.

Yatron said he’s asked the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts to take action against Dougherty in the wake of the charges. But AOPC spokesman Art Heinz told the AP any change in Dougherty’s status would require a court order and suggested that the ball was in Yatron’s court.

The situation, unusual whenever a judge is criminally charged, is perhaps more unusual in Berks where Dougherty has been a law enforcement fixture for decades.

Dougherty spent 17 years as a Cumru Township police officer and served as the township’s fire marshal before the state Senate appointed him district judge in 1998 to fill the remainder of his father’s term when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

But a 22-page grand jury presentment painted a picture of financial disarray and Dougherty’s apparently illegal attempts to rob Peter to pay Paul as his personal bank account was often overdrawn.

His court employees told a grand jury that Dougherty would often tell people paying fines or court costs in his office that “we like cash” and “cash is always good.”

An audit last year determined that Dougherty often waited weeks to deposit money paid to his court instead of daily as is required, and that more than $18,000 was unaccounted for at one point.

On Thursday, the attorney general charged Dougherty with stealing $15,251 from his office. Dougherty told investigators he didn’t have that money, but it was suddenly deposited a day before Dougherty was subpoenaed by the grand jury in October, the grand jury found.

Dougherty is also accused of taking nearly $98,000 from the Wyomissing Volunteer Fire Company, and that Dougherty struggled to pay his monthly bills, including his mortgage, when some of the money was found missing last year. A court employee told the grand jury that he loaned Dougherty $3,300 in April 2015 and that none of the money had been repaid by November.

State investigators said Dougherty eventually acknowledged stealing from the fire company’s savings account, but could not explain what he did with the money.

“Dougherty said that he wished he could tell the agents that something ‘exciting’ happened with the money like ‘drugs or prostitutes;’ however he stated that it was just ‘life,’” the grand jury report said.

Dougherty doesn’t have an attorney listed in court records and nobody answered the phone at his judicial office.

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