Appeals Court judge Michael Thomas Joyce indicted
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A federal grand jury today indicted a state Superior Court judge for bilking two insurance companies out of nearly a half-million dollars, federal prosecutors said. Michael Thomas Joyce, 58, of Erie, is charged with nine counts of mail fraud and money laundering.
Prosecutors said Joyce made numerous false representations for two insurance claims related to a 2001 car accident. The companies involved were Erie Insurance Group and State Farm Insurance.
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said Joyce was involved in a low-speed accident in August 2001 in Erie County. Neither police nor medical technicians were called to the scene. However, Joyce later sought damages from State Farm -- which insured the other driver involved in the accident -- and Erie Insurance, which carried his policy, for pain and suffering from injuries he claimed to have suffered in the accident.
Joyce claimed the injuries impacted his professional and personal life, making it impossible to play golf, scuba dive or exercise, according to the indictment. He also claimed the injuries prevented him from pursuing a higher judicial office. During this time, however, the indictment states Joyce played golf and went scuba diving while visiting Jamaica, went roller-blading numerous times and exercised regularly at a private gym.
In 2002, Joyce applied for and received a federal private pilot's license and flew about 50 times, the indictment states.
Joyce also claimed in paperwork submitted to the insurance companies that he had received the Republican endorsement and nomination for the 2002 Pennsylvania Supreme Court race, the indictment states. Buchanan's release said he'd received neither.
Joyce received $50,000 from State Farm and $390,000 from Erie Insurance, the indictment states.
Prosecutors say Joyce used the money from Erie Insurance to buy real estate, interest in an airplane and a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The government is seeking to seize all of those items.
Joyce faces a maximum of 120 years in prison and a fine up to $2.25 million, if convicted.
Joyce served as a presidential law clerk to Gerald Ford in 1975 and was elected as an Erie County Common Pleas Court judge in 1985. He joined the state Superior Court as an appellate judge in 1998.
Joyce is seeking retention for a second 10-year term in the November election and is rated recommended by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
*Rachel Lea Hunter [A candiate for Supreme Court in North Carolina] clerk for Judge Joyce for 2 years and quit in disgust when she threaten to expose Judge Joyce for his corrupted affairs while on the appeals court.