Gambling Addict Judge in New York State Shown Leniency After Embezzlement

Posted on: March 21, 2024, 08:59h. 

Last updated on: March 22, 2024, 10:24h.

A former judge in Cayuga County, New York State, has been sentenced to probation after she admitted to dipping her fingers into court coffers.

June Shepardson, Moravia town judge, Cayuga County, New York
The Cayuga County Courthouse in upstate New York, above, where former Moravia town judge June Shepardson pleaded guilty to grand larceny. She was sentenced to five years’ probation. (Image:

June Shepardson is a former town judge in Moravia, population 1,270, in New York’s Finger Lakes region. She was suspended by the town court in July amid an investigation into a missing $6K.

On Sept. 1, 2023, Shepardson resigned from the position she had held since 2001 and subsequently confessed to stealing the money.

On Thursday, Judge Thomas Leone in Cayuga County Court sentenced Shepardson to five years’ probation for fourth-degree grand larceny, a class E felony. As part of Shepardson’s plea agreement, she paid more than $6K in restitution.

Self-Confessed Gambler

Shepardson is an admitted gambling addict and her lawyer, J. Justin Woods, emphasized her ongoing efforts to combat her problem in the case.

“Unfortunately, near the end of her service, Justice Shepardson developed a gambling addiction for which she is now in recovery,” Woods said in December. “She appreciated the opportunity to serve her community on the bench with fairness.”

Shepardson was looking forward to “returning to private life,” and was committed to bringing “awareness and treatment resources about gambling addiction to those isolated in rural areas,” he added.

Woods said his client had excluded herself from area casinos. Gaming venues within striking distance include Cayuga Nation’s Lakeside Entertainment I and II, and the del Lago Resort & Casino.

In New York State, town and village courts are local courts that typically handle traffic tickets, criminal matters, small claims, and local code violations, such as zoning.

Fourth-degree grand larceny doesn’t carry a mandatory prison term in New York State. However, Shepardson faced a maximum of four years.

Robert Tembeckjian of the state Judicial Conduct Commission said Shepardson had let down the public.

“Town and village court justices are responsible for safeguarding, reporting, and promptly remitting all official monies collected by their courts from fines, fees, and other sources,” Tembeckjian said in a recent statement. “Failure to do so undermines public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.”

Porteous Bribes

It’s rare for judges in the US to compromise themselves through gambling addiction, although it’s not unheard of. In 2010, U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous was impeached and removed from office by Congress after being found guilty of corruption.

Porteous admitted to struggling with gambling addiction and a booze problem, which led to him accepting bribes.

He was the eighth federal judge to be removed from office by impeachment in U.S. history.