Philly Judge Admits He Lied to the FBI

Municipal Court Judge Joseph O’Neill pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI. He’ll be sentenced in September.

"Justice" engraved on Philadelphia's City Hall

“Justice” engraved on Philadelphia’s City Hall. Photo | Jeff Fusco

Municipal Court Judge Joseph O’Neill admitted today he lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during an investigation into wrongdoing in the courts. He pleaded guilty to making false statements during the federal corruption investigation.

O’Neill, 65, admitted that he lied to the FBI on two occasions when they investigated former Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr. earlier this decade. Waters abruptly resigned his position and pleaded guilty to fraud in September 2014.

During that investigation, investigators twice asked O’Neill if Waters communicated with him about a case involving Donegal Investment Properties. The owner of Donegal was Sam Kuttab, an ally of Waters, and the FBI had intercepted a conversation where Waters asks O’Neill to “take a hard look at it.” Kuttab pleaded guilty last year.

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The company suing Kuttab’s company said it hadn’t been paid for $2,733 in services; after O’Neill ruled against the company, Kuttab settled for $600 to avoid an appeal.

The FBI says O’Neill denied being contacted by anyone about the case in two separate interviews with investigators. O’Neill was charged earlier this year.

Waters was sentenced to two years in prison in January of 2015. U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez scheduled a sentencing hearing for O’Neill on September 7th.

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