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By James Roxbury
Thursday July 23, 2015 at 12:08 pm

As released by the Office of The Attorney General.

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane today announced a Harrisburg magisterial district judge has been charged with theft by extortion, among other crimes, following allegations that he demanded campaign donations from the constables who worked for him.

The charges against Robert Jennings III, 65, 639 Seneca St., Harrisburg, are the result of an investigation by the Office of Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigations.

Investigators allege that Jennings demanded that constables working for him provide 10 percent of their earnings to his re-election campaign fund. This alleged criminal activity occurred as Jennings sought re-election in 2009.

"This is an egregious case of a public servant abusing the powers of his office for financial gain," Attorney General Kane said. "No employee should be subjected to this kind of work environment."

According to a criminal complaint, one constable who worked for Jennings acknowledged that he was shocked when the judge demanded the campaign donations. The constable told an investigator he was initially uncertain whether the request was a joke, but Jennings allegedly stated, "I wear the black robe here." The constable eventually made a $2,000 donation because he feared for his job, the criminal complaint states.

The constable also told the investigator that Jennings said there would be no work for the constables who failed to make the donations. Another constable confirmed the claim to be true, investigators allege. He said he stopped receiving work from Jennings' office after telling the judge he would not pay the 10 percent from his earnings, the criminal complaint states.

A review of campaign finance reports showed that Jennings' re-election campaign received payments of $2,000 and $1,135 from two constables who worked for his office.

The theft by extortion charge filed against Jennings is a third-degree felony. He also is charged with four counts each of criminal coercion, official oppression and demanding property to secure employment. Those charges are misdemeanors.

Jennings' bail was set at $10,000 unsecured following a preliminary arraignment Thursday morning. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 11.

The Office of Attorney General started its investigation of Jennings after receiving a referral from the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board. The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Clarke Madden of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecutions Section.

The charges are among the Office of Attorney General's ongoing efforts to investigate public corruption.


Archive 11.14.11

The Judicial Conduct Board filed formal charges against Harrisburg Magisterial District Judge Robert Jennings, the Board also filed a complaint seeking interim suspension of Judge Jennings.

The complaint claims that in late 2008 to 2009 Jennings told constables that worked in his office to provide "ten percent" of their earnings from services to his re-election campaign fund.

Read the complaint.

Campaign contributions, Parking tickets, and Offensive statements.

Archive video of Mayor Linda D. Thompson Swearing in ceremony January 4, 2010.

Judge Robert Jennings.

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