State law enforcement officials have arrested a magisterial district judge and charged her with conflict of interest and tampering with public records after she was discovered using a court computer system to get rid of three traffic citations that had been issued to her by local police.
In a statement Feb. 13, the Office of Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly announced the nine felony counts lodged against Kelly S. Ballentine, 43, a Lancaster City district judge.
According to the announcement, agents with Kelly’s office filed the charges against Ballentine after it was discovered she had accessed the Pennsylvania Magisterial District Judicial system and singlehandedly dismissed three traffic summonses that had been issued in her name back in November 2010.
The citations, issued by the Lancaster City Police Department, were for an expired vehicle registration and parking violations.
To date, there is no record of any fines being paid by Ballentine to the police department or the city treasurer, Kelly’s announcement states.
Kelly stated that the traffic violations occurred within Ballentine’s magisterial district and were handled by personnel in her office.
When the fines weren’t paid within 30 days the summonses were mailed to Ballentine.
The case was referred to the state Attorney General’s Office by Lancaster County District Attorney Craig W. Stedman after the president judge of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas brought forward information about Ballentine’s conduct, according to Kelly’s announcement.
The three counts of conflict of interest and six counts of tampering with public records are all third-degree felonies and are each punishable by up to seven years in prison and $15,000 in fines.
In addition, Ballentine is charged with three counts of obstructing the administration of law or other governmental function, second-degree misdemeanors punishable by up to two years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Ballentine turned herself in to agents with the Attorney General’s Office on Feb. 13 and was arraigned before Magisterial District Judge William E. Benner, Jr., according to Kelly’s announcement.
Ballentine was released on $25,000 unsecured bail and ordered to have no contact with any witnesses in the case.
A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 23.