Ex-judge jailed in procurement case
BUFFALO - A retired state Supreme Court judge who procured prostitutes for his social club, including one woman who had appeared before him in court and another who was in the country illegally, was sentenced yesterday to 18 months in prison.
Ronald Tills, who also served in the state Assembly and was a Court of Claims judge, was given the prison term and fined $25,000 after telling the sentencing judge he was embarrassed by his behavior and prays for the women he victimized.
“I will never be able to forgive myself for the possible harm I’ve caused the victims in this case,’’ said Tills, 74.
As director of the Buffalo chapter of the Royal Order of Jesters, Tills arranged to have prostitutes at numerous gatherings in the United States and Canada between 2001 and 2008, prosecutors said.
An investigation of Niagara County massage parlors in 2007 exposed a judge and a police captain as customers of the businesses, which employed illegal Asian immigrants as prostitutes. The investigation led to the Buffalo Jesters and to charges against Tills, his former law clerk Michael Stebick, and former Lockport police Captain John Trowbridge for taking an illegal immigrant to Kentucky in Stebick’s motor home for an October 2005 Jesters meeting.
“This was an undocumented alien, could barely speak English, and was in no position to protest or deny any request for sexual activities at a Jesters event,’’ Assistant US Attorney John Rogowski said.
In a victim impact statement, the woman described being scared and mistreated. She was paid $1,000, half of which she gave to her employer at the massage parlor, authorities said.
In seeking a lighter sentence for Tills, defense attorney Terrence Connors said Tills had given detailed information to investigators that could help in a broader probe of Jesters chapters in other cities.
The all-male, invitation-only organization is a division of the Freemasons and has 191 chapters and 22,000 members. It is based in Indianapolis, and its motto is “Mirth is King.’’
Rogowski declined to comment on whether other chapters are under investigation or whether other arrests are expected.