Manchester Town Judge accused of embezzlement faces 8 new charges
Manchester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A Manchester town justice accused of embezzlement is facing more legal trouble.
On Wednesday afternoon, Erika Martin was indicted on eight new charges involving juggling bank accounts and writing bad checks. She has also been offered a plea deal that includes jail time.
"I think it's very important that jail be there in this case. People who hold public office should be held to a higher standard," said Ontario County District Attorney Mike Tantillo.
As an elected judge, Martin ordered people to pay up for traffic and other infractions. Beginning in January, the very month she was sworn in, prosecutors say she began pocketing the money for a total of $9,000.
Investigators following the money trail discovered something else.
"The defendant kited checks between a number of banks - floating checks where she didn't have the money to cover them," said Tantillo. He said the charges involve personal and business accounts.
13WHAM cameras were in court as Martin read for herself eight separate charges of larceny, scheme to defraud, and writing checks on an account that had been closed for months.
"It appears it is completely unrelated to her position as a town judge in Manchester," said defense attorney Jason Housel.
Ontario County Judge William Kocher offered Martin a deal to avoid trial. For the deal, Martin would plead guilty to the original embezzlement plus all of the charges contained in the new indictment for a sentence of 120 days in jail. The offer also includes five years probation and a requirement that she pay back all of the money.
Martin has until December 20 to decide whether to take the offer.
Housel said the plea offer will likely be rejected. "Erika has maintained her innocence from the get-go. I don't think the fact that there's a new indictment is going to change her thinking in this," he said.