The Kansas City Star
Former Kansas City Municipal Court Judge Deborah Neal listened in stunned silence Friday as she was sentenced to more than two years in prison for soliciting loans from lawyers to fuel her gambling addiction.
Even prosecutors were surprised by the 28-month sentence handed down by Senior U.S. District Judge Howard Sachs, which was four months longer than the maximum sentence recommended under federal guidelines.
Defense lawyers had asked for a period of supervised home detention, perhaps with electronic monitoring.
But Sachs wanted to protect the courts’ reputation and deter lawyers from crime.
“There needs to be a strong message of deterrence, perhaps not for you, but for those who have public duties and those who come before judges as parties and as lawyers,” Sachs told Neal, noting that “the public reputation of the Municipal Court has been severely damaged.”
Neal admitted in May that she had accepted nearly $36,000 in loans from lawyers, many of whom appeared before her in Municipal Court. In November she admitted that she had a gambling addiction and resigned from the municipal bench.