A previously suspended judge in Pennsylvania learned that a powerful position won’t preclude the penalty of parking tickets.
A judge on Monday fined magisterial district court judge Kelly Ballentine $1,500 for fixing three of her own parking tickets – a charge five times more expensive than the original fines, the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era reported.
Ballentine pleaded guilty in February to three misdemeanor counts of tampering with public records, which carry maximum penalties of up to two years in prison.
But Chester County (Pa.) Judge Charles Smith opted for the portentous fine in lieu of jail or probation because Ballentine, 44, is a first-time offender with an “otherwise reputable background,” he said.
Assistant Attorney General Anthony Forray said Ballentine did not try to “rip off Lancaster County for $269.59,” – the cost of her parking fines, but she "was given a certain amount of trust, and she abused that trust."
In court, Ballentine’s attorney said that she showed a “major lapse in judgment” when she dismissed the tickets given to her by city police in December 2010 and January 2011.
Ballentine asked for forgiveness from her friends, family and peers in the judicial system.
"I regret any measure of shame I have brought to them at this time," Ballentine said, according to the Intelligencer.
"What's done is done, but go on and maybe you will work all the harder to do the job you were elected to do," Smith said.
The state Judicial Conduct Board is currently weighing Ballentine’s status as a district judge and could disbar her.