News release from the U. S. Attorney's Office Middle District of Georgia
Brooks E. Blitch, III the former Chief Superior Court Judge of the Alapaha Circuit was sentenced before the Honorable Hugh Lawson, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Georgia in Valdosta, Georgia on December 1, 2009 along with Berrien Sutton, Daniel V. Leccese, Sr. and Hayward Collier.
Brooks E. Blitch, III served as the Chief Superior Court Judge of the Alapaha Circuit prior to his plea of guilty. Blitch pleaded guilty to Count Nine of the Indictment pending against him on September 11, 2009.
Count Nine charged him with Honest Services Wire Fraud alleging that he had deprived the citizens of the State of Georgia of their entitlement to his honest services as Superior Court Judge by engaging in unethical ex parte meetings with litigants and deciding cases based on information learned during those meetings.
Blitch was sentenced to three years probation; a fine of $100,000.00 payable immediately; and a mandatory assessment fee of $100.00.
Berrien Sutton served as the State Court Judge for Clinch County and had been appointed part-time Juvenile Judge for the Alapaha Judicial Circuit prior to his plea of guilty. Sutton pleaded guilty to Count Two on March 4, 2009.
Count Two charged him with Honest Services Mail Fraud alleging that he had been paid to act as juvenile judge and had not done so. Sutton was sentenced to six years probation; restitution in the amount of $255,000.00; a fine of $10,000.00; and a mandatory assessment fee of $100.00.
A portion of the restitution in the amount of $75,000.00 along with the $10,000.00 fine are to be paid within thirty days. The balance of restitution is to be paid in increments of $3,000.00 per month. If total payment is made after three years Sutton may petition for a sentence reduction.
Daniel V. Leccese, Sr. was the Clerk of Court for Clinch County prior to his plea of guilty. On June 13, 2007, Leccese entered a plea of guilty to a one count Information charging him with Mail Fraud and alleging that he had participated in a scheme causing misdemeanor defendants to pay an unauthorized surcharge of $10.00 to $15.00 which ultimately benefited Leccese and other specified Clinch County employees.
Leccese was sentenced to three years probation; a $20,000.00 fine to be paid immediately and a $100.00 mandatory assessment fee.
Hayward Collier pleaded guilty on January 20, 2009 to the offense of Perjury alleging that he provided false statements to the Grand Jury regarding certain ex parte meetings that he had with Blitch.
Collier was sentenced to five years probation with credit for time served and a mandatory assessment fee of $100.00