Ex-NY Supreme Court Judge Receives 15-Month Jail Sentence For Obstruction

By - May 2, 2022
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A former New York Supreme Court Judge, Sylvia Ash, 64, was sentenced last week to 15 months in prison for obstructing justice in a financial fraud case.

The AP reported that Ash was convicted in December 2021 on several federal charges regarding an investigation into bank fraud at Municipal Credit Union.

She was convicted on charges of obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and making false statements to a federal agent.

The judge sentencing Ash said the former judge’s actions were corrupt, dishonest, and ‘frankly outrageous.’ Judge Kaplan also said ‘these crimes strike at the heart of the criminal justice system.’

Municipal Credit Union is a nonprofit entity that is based in New York City. It has $4.2 billion in financial accounts, and provides financial services to 500,000 members.

Federal agents said the federal financial crimes happened while Ash, a New York City judge, was on the organization’s board of directors from 2008 to 2016, when she quit.

Ash Convicted For Accepting Kickbacks and More

Ash was convicted of hiding financial misdeeds of the organization’s former CEO Kam Wong when Ash was the board president. In 2018, federal prosecutors said the ex-CEO was approached by law enforcement looking into his financial misconduct. That’s when Ash too illegal measures to cover up for the executive.

She did so in many ways. For example, she signed fake memoranda that were given to the government, and lied to federal agents on several occasions. Sometimes she concealed and deleted documents that would have been government evidence. Also, she wiped an iPhone the executive gave her to encourage her to hide his crimes.

Ash Lied After 2 Federal Jury Subpoenas Demanding Information

After Wong was put on administrative leave at MCU, Ash was interviewed by the feds on March 1, 2018. She admitted that the memorandum she wrote wasn’t accurate. But she attempted to justify the money Wong received by arguing that the credit union’s general counsel told her that Wong’s contract gave him a choice to receive that kind of money. The statement was not true.

On March 13, 2018, Ash received a federal grand jury subpoena that required her to produce documents pertaining to several issues. One of them was Wong’s compensation and any communications she had with Wong through March 18, 2018. But on April 6, 2018, Ash told a federal agent that she didn’t have any relevant materials mentioned in the first subpoena.

On June 8, 2018, after the ex-CEO was charged with embezzlement, Ash was interviewed by the feds again by phone about the subpoena. She lied that she didn’t have any documents related to the subpoena.

On June, 18, 2018, Ash received a second federal grand jury subpoena that required her to produce all communications with Wong and other parties accused of malfeasance. She also was required to product documents about any internal investigation, criminal investigation, or audit that involved Wong.

That is when Ash went to a New York City Apple store and wiped an iPhone that Wong gave her in January 2018. Ash also deleted emails in her Gmail account and failed to produce the required communications. Next, she wiped the memories of two iPads she owned.

Wong was convicted on federal embezzlement charges in 2019 and received a five-year prison sentence. The next month, feds say Ash lied in a voluntary interview with the US Attorney on the case. Ash was arrested in October 2019.

While her illegal activity wasn’t when she was on the credit union’s board, she tried to hide illegal conduct that she had done when on the board.

In return, she accepted kickbacks of tens of thousands of dollars each. She used the illegal funds to buy airplane tickets, hotel stays, and entertainment.

She also received annual birthday bashes at a minor league baseball stadium. Her cable, phone bills, and other bills were covered by the credit union. But as member of the judiciary in New York, she is required to report every benefit and gift. She reported none from 2018 to 2018.

American Dream Turned To Ashes

Ash was born in London of modest means and rose to one of the top judicial positions in New York.

Before she was sentenced, she said she was embarrassed and had let down many people. Ash said she had achieved the American dream but ruined her life with criminal activity. ‘Because of what I did, the reputation I spent 20 years building was destroyed and it’s my fault,’ she said.

Judge Kaplan did not make a decision during sentenceing about financial restitution to MCU. Ash is the third person that has been sentenced involving the credit union. Another, Joseph Guagliardo, a former New York City police officer, was sentenced to 30 month in prison for embezzlement.

After the conviction, US Attorney Damian Williams blasted Ash for her illegal actions as a sitting judge in New York City. He said that Ash took many steps over months to impede a federal criminal invesigation into illegal actions at the credit union that took place when she was chair of their board.

Ash agreed to hide the CEO’s crimes, and he gave her a stream of financial benefits for years, even after she was told to resign from the board.

After she finishes her prison term, Ash will be required to have two years of supervised release and 20 hours of community service, and will have to pay an $80,000 fine

Attorney Geoffrey G. Nathan

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq

Geoffrey Nathan is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. He is a Boston criminal defense attorney with over 25 years of experience in felony, federal, and white-collar crimes. Board of Bar Overseers Number #552110