Pennsylvania Official Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering and Extortion
The former director of public safety in Lower Southampton Township, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to money laundering and extortion charges on Sept. 5, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), FBI, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, and the Pennsylvania State Police.
Robert Hoopes, 71, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right, 2 Philly News reports.
As the director of public safety Hoopes had authority over all police, fire, and emergency operations in the township.
From 2014 to 2016, Hoopes solicited, extorted, and attempted to extort bribes and kickbacks from individuals and businesses in exchange for his influence over Lower Southampton Township’s Board of Supervisors, Solicitor, officers, and employees.
Hoopes solicited bribe payments from Robert DeGoria, who was then the vice-president of an outdoor advertising company, in exchange for offering his influence to reduce lease payments that the company owed to Lower Southampton Township.
In November 2016, Hoopes and co-defendant Bernard Rafferty, who was then a Deputy Constable in Bucks County, accepted a bribe of $1,000, as well as the promise of other fees, in exchange for Hoopes and Rafferty using their positions as public officials to “fix” a traffic case in Bucks County Magisterial District Court.
Additionally, from June 2016 to August 2016, Hoopes, Rafferty, and co-defendant Kevin M. Biedmeran, who was then a business development manager at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, laundered $400,000 in cash, represented to be proceeds from health care fraud and illegal drug trafficking, and accepted money laundering fees totaling $80,000 in cash.
Hoopes faces a maximum possible sentence of 100 years in federal prison for his crimes. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 17, 2018.
In a related case, Michael Savona, an attorney who also served as Solicitor in Lower Southampton Township, previously pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to federal agents. Savona is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 7, 2018.
Rafferty, Biederman, and DeGoria have already pled guilty to their crimes and are awaiting sentencing.