Judge sets bail for convicted ex-jurist

Former Magisterial District Judge Rita A. Arnold must post $100,000

A senior judge set bail for Rita A. Arnold at $100,000 cash pending her appeal of a 16- to 32-month prison sentence.

A senior judge set bail for Rita A. Arnold at $100,000 cash pending her appeal of a 16- to 32-month prison sentence.

A day after the attorney for an embattled former Chester County magisterial district justice argued that her client deserved bail pending appeal, a judge granted the request.

Responding to a motion filed by Heidi F. Eakin in behalf of Rita A. Arnold, who was sentenced on Tuesday to 16 to 32 months in prison, Senior Judge John L. Braxton set bail at $100,000. A hearing date has not yet been scheduled on Eakin’s motion for reconsideration of the jail term, which Eakin said amounted to a death sentence for Arnold, who has been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

Arnold, who  once served as magisterial district judge for an area that included Birmingham Township, pleaded guilty in June to tampering with public records and obstruction of law.

According to court records, Arnold concealed a summary citation state police issued to one of her sons in January 2010 to protect him from a potential probation violation. After repeated questions over a couple of months from police about the docketing delay, Arnold lied about its status, fraudulently docketed the citation, ordered an employee to transfer it to another court, where it was dismissed, and attempted to involve her office manager in the cover-up, records said.

When he imposed the penalty, Braxton said he felt a sentence outside the sentencing guidelines was warranted by the protracted manner in which Arnold attempted to cover up her crimes and the fact that she sought revenge against the employee who refused to cooperate with her. The judge said he was not unsympathetic to Arnold’s medical condition, but believed she could get the appropriate treatment in prison. Arnold has already been transferred from Chester County Prison to a state institution in Muncy, Lycoming County.



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