Former Judge Sentenced in Tix-Fix Scandal

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The former chief judge of the Jersey City Municipal Court has been sentenced to community service and probation for her role in a ticket-fixing scandal.

Wanda Molina, 51, was remorseful as she heard the sentence, handed down by state Superior Court Judge Harry Carroll. She was also given probation followed by 364 days in prison, but upon successful completion of the terms of her probation, she can petition to have the prison part of her sentence dismissed.

Molina must also complete 500 hours of community service and pay restitution for the nine parking tickets she dismissed for an individual described as a “close personal companion” between October 30, 2006 and April 2, 2007. Judges are barred from hearing any cases in which they may have a personal interest.

The discovery of the ticket-fixing scandal, which involved several Jersey City Municipal Court officials, including judges, came after Hudson Count Assignment Judge Murice J. Gallipoli launched an investigation. The matter was turned over to the state Attorney General’s Office for prosecution, then moved to Bergen County Superior Court.

Although Molina initially proclaimed her innocence, she later admitted the crime and pleaded guilty to tampering with public records and falsifying records. She then resigned her position on the court.

In sentencing Molina, Carroll said that he struggled to decide the proper punishment, in light of recently having handed down a three-year prison term to another figure involved in the scandal, former court administrator Virginia Pagan. The deciding factors, he said, were the fact that Pagan admitted to fixing over 200 tickets, and that she had pleaded guilty to second-degree crimes, which carry mandatory jail time. Molina, on the other hand, pleaded guilty to third- and fourth-degree crimes, which do not mandate time behind bars.

Molina does, however, forfeit her right to seek public employment in the future.

“I had a lapse in judgment for which I am accountable,” the former judge told the court after her sentence was read. “The punishment I have already endured for the last three years is one that will be with me for the rest of my life.”

 

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