Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
COURTS: Former judge pleads guilty in prostitution sting
September 05, 2008
BUFFALO — A former State Supreme Court judge has pleaded guilty in connection with a prostitution sting that also involved a former Lockport police captain.
Ronald H. Tills, 73, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to knowingly transporting a female in interstate commerce with the intent the female engage in prostitution.
The actions were in violation of the Mann Act, and the charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert C. Moscati, who handled the prosecution, said Tills admitted that in late October 2005, he and others transported a woman from Western New York out of state.
Former Lockport police captain John Trowbridge, 60, pleaded guilty in March to transporting the woman, an illegal alien identified in court papers as “Jane Doe No. 1,” to Kentucky.
Moscati said the men intended the woman to engage in prostitution with members of the Royal Order of Jesters, an international fraternal society that Tills and Trowbridge both belonged to.
As part of his plea, Tills admitted to five additional occasions of transporting a woman across state lines for prostitution.
All instances were related to the defendants’ membership in the Jesters, which held weekend meetings where it was custom to make women available for acts of prostitution, Moscati said.
Tills’ former law clerk, Michael Stebick, has pleaded guilty to the same conduct. He is awaiting sentencing.
Tills and Stebick resigned their posts within the court’s Eighth Judicial District in April.
Trowbridge, who retired from the Lockport Police Department in 2002, is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 4
Trowbridge could face a maximum of 10 years in prison or a $250,000 fine, but at the plea hearing, U.S. District Judge William Skretny said the sentence will most likely be between 12 and 18 months or a fine of $3,000 to $30,000.
An investigation by the Western District’s Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance culminated in December with raids on four massage parlors in Lockport, Niagara Falls, Wheatfield and Tonawanda.
The women working at the massage parlors were illegal aliens from Asia. Nine women were rescued from the parlors, where investigators said they were being held as virtual captives.