July 14, 2008
Valdosta - A suspended south Georgia judge will now be removed from the bench after being found guilty on federal charges.
Clinch County Associate Magistrate Judge Linda Peterson was convicted Monday for lying to the grand jury and FBI investigators. But she was acquitted of the conspiracy to commit extortion charge.
A jury Monday convicted judge Linda Peterson on two of three federal charges.
She was found guilty of perjury and false statement. She was found not guilty of extortion.
"It was a tough trial, we felt we had a strong case. We would have liked to gotten convictions on all three counts but we got convictions on two of the three counts so we are pleased with the results and I think justice was done," says US Attorney Maxwell Wood.
After the verdict, Peterson left the courtroom in tears. But her attorney says this case is not over yet.
Peterson's attorney William Moore told us he's happy about the outcome of the extortion charge and now plans to appeal the other two.
Peterson was indicted September for making false statements and perjury. The US Attorney's office tacked on the extortion charge in March.
Her trial gave the first glimpse into the wiretapped conversations recorded by the FBI and revealed the investigation into the Alapaha Judicial Circuit has been going on for several years.
"It's been a long investigation but outside of what was presented to the jury I wouldn't want to comment on how long the FBI has been investigating the case," Wood says.
As the FBI and US Attorney's Office work to weed out judicial and governmental corruption in the area.
"There does seem to be a trend in certain areas and the Alapaha Judicial Circuit in particular and we do have other cases pending," Wood says. "We are ready to take the other cases forward at the appropriate time."
Peterson faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. She will be sentenced in the next 60 days.
Peterson has been on paid administrative leave since she was indicted in September.
Judicial and state officials say since she was convicted, she'll soon be removed from power by the Georgia Supreme Court and Judicial Qualifications Commission.
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