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Wall Street Journal: Surely You Jest - Former New York Judge Admits to Violating Mann Act

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Wall Street Journal

Surely You Jest: Former New York Judge Admits to Violating Mann Act

September 8, 2008

By Dan Slater

Laugh and the glad World laughs with you;
Weep and the sad World will sigh;
Mirth is our life’s true Elixir;
It show [sic] You’re a “regular Guy.” — from the Creed of the Jesters

Royal Order of Jesters Remember the Mann Act, the law we batted around so much in March when news broke of Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution habit? Some thought prosecutors might go after Spitzer for violating the law, enacted in 1910 to prevent the movement of prostitutes – or women intended to participate in “immoral” acts – between states or from the U.S. to a foreign country.

That’s yet to happen. But the Mann Act is apparently still alive and well. The NYLJ reports that Ronald H. Tills, a retired New York Supreme Court justice, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Buffalo, N.Y., to violating the Mann Act by transporting a prostitute across state lines.

According to the NYLJ, the 73 year-old Tills admitted that he recruited prostitutes to service members of a fraternal club, the Royal Order of Jesters, at gatherings in Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky and Ontario, N.Y., in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

In his plea agreement, Tills also acknowledged arranging for women to attend a meeting of the Buffalo chapter of the Jesters in 2001 in Dunkirk, N.Y., to have sex with members of the club. He faces from 27 months to 33 months in prison during sentencing, which is scheduled for Jan. 12.

Tills’ lawyer, Terrence M. Connors of Connors & Vilardo, said Tills “accepted responsibility for his actions and admitted in court that he committed a crime, that his conduct was wrong and his judgment was horrible.” Tills also agreed to aid in the prosecution of others involved in the procurement of prostitutes, a role that could earn him a shorter prison sentence, Connors said.

Further Reading:

Pillars of the Community

The Royal Order of Jesters - The Shriners Secret Society Secret Society - 'Mirth is King'

The Shriners - The 'Krafty' Klowns