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OFF BEAT: Jailed judge claims being bilked by insurers

OFF BEAT: Jailed judge claims being bilked by insurers

A former judge serving prison time for bilking two insurers alleges that he has been the victim of the insurers' fraud and not the other way around.

In his lawsuit filed in March alleging fraud and other charges, former Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Michael T. Joyce asserts that one of the insurers settled his auto accident injury claim for more than he expected so he would find in favor of the insurer, Pennsylvania-based Erie Insurance Group, in future cases.

He alleges that the events that cost him his career and reputation and landed him in prison were part of Erie's plan to entrap him in a “nefarious scheme,” the Erie Times-News reported.

The insurers denied Mr. Joyce's allegations.

Mr. Joyce reportedly is serving 46 months in a federal prison for money laundering and mail fraud. He also forfeited a house purchased with $440,000 in settlements obtained from Erie and Bloomington, Ill.-based State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., was stripped of his annual pension and had his law license suspended.

A 2007 indictment reportedly charged that Mr. Joyce obtained the insurance settlements by falsely claiming he was disabled in a 2001 rear-end auto collision.

A criminal investigation of Mr. Joyce's claims came after an ex-girlfriend's tip that he committed insurance fraud and a federal jury eventually found that he cheated the insurers out of the $440,000.

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Mr. Joyce was golfing, scuba diving and learning how to fly a plane when he allegedly told insurers he could not hold a cup of coffee steady.