Former Pa. Superior Court judge who was convicted of insurance fraud is disbarred

By Jon Campisi | Jun 21, 2012

A former Pennsylvania appellate court judge who was sentenced to federal prison time

A former Pennsylvania appellate court judge who was sentenced to federal prison time

for his role in a scheme to defraud insurance companies was officially disbarred late last week.

The state Supreme Court granted a petition by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel to disbar former Superior Court Judge Michael T. Joyce.

The Superior Court is Pennsylvania’s top-tier appellate court directly beneath the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s one-page per curiam order was issued June 14 through the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

The disbarment was retroactive to June 11, 2009.

The high court further ordered Joyce to pay costs to the Disciplinary Board.

Joyce was convicted on eight counts of mail fraud and money laundering in November 2008 and four months later was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release, according to a past news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The former jurist was also ordered to make $440,000 in restitution.

Joyce, who was 60 at the time of his sentencing, was found guilty of defrauding two insurance companies by faking an injury following a motor vehicle accident back in 2001.

Although Joyce claimed his injuries adversely affected his professional and private life, evidence at trial showed that Joyce continued to golf, scuba dive, exercise, ride motorcycles and fly airplanes, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

After Joyce received the $440,000 in insurance settlements, he went on what authorities called a “spending spree,” buying a plane, motorcycle and other items.

Prosecutors called his conduct “appalling,” especially given that Joyce was a sitting state Superior Court judge at the time he perpetuated the fraud scheme.

Joyce was convicted of defrauding the Erie Insurance Group and State Farm Insurance. He had received $50,000 from State Farm to settle his bodily injury claim and $390,000 from Erie to settle a claim under the underinsured motorist provision of his automobile insurance policy.

Joyce had appealed to keep his law license despite the criminal conviction against him. He also turned around and filed suit against the insurance companies, claiming they, in fact, defrauded him, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

His suit, however, was subsequently dismissed by a judge.

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