Former magisterial district judge receives 16-to-32-month prison sentence for concealing son’s criminal citation

By Jon Campisi | Oct 17, 2013

Rita Arnold, the former magisterial district judge from suburban

Philadelphia who had admitted to trying to get her adult son out of a summary citation for harassment, has been sentenced to state prison by a Chester County Court judge.

Arnold, who back in June pleaded guilty to tampering with records and obstructing the administration of law and other governmental function, was sentenced to between 16 and 32 months in prison, according to court records.

News reports stated that Chester County Common Pleas Court Judge John Braxton handed down the hefty sentence despite the fact that Arnold, who recently had a double mastectomy, will require a regimen of chemotherapy because her breast cancer had spread.

Arnold, who served as a district judge in Downingtown, Pa. for nearly two decades, was arrested by agents with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office back in the spring and charged with concealing a citation that had been issued to one of her son’s after the man got into a fight with his brother.

The former local judge was apparently attempting to protect the son against a possible probation violation.

Arnold, who resigned from the bench following her arrest, admitted that she concealed her son’s citation for more than two months before she docketed it in the state judiciary’s computer system.

Authorities alleged that Arnold not only failed to immediately docket the son’s citation, but that she also failed to follow proper procedure to transfer the matter to another district court so as to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Pennsylvania’s Court of Judicial Discipline had suspended Arnold from her post for one month last summer.

The Philadelphia Inquirer on Wednesday quoted Arnold’s lawyer, Heidi Eakin, as saying that Judge Braxton considered Arnold’s medical condition in crafting the sentence, but determined that Arnold would be able to receive appropriate cancer treatment while in state prison.

Eakin, however, was then quoted saying she was not sure how Arnold would receive her chemotherapy while behind prison walls.

Court records show that Arnold will serve out her sentence at the State Correctional Institution – Muncy, a prison for women in Lycoming County, which is in north-central Pennsylvania.

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