Former D.c. Superior Court Judge Robert H. Campbell pleaded innocent yesterday to charges he took money and gifts for dismissing hundreds of dollars worth of traffic tickets issued to a local construction firm.
Campbell, 57, who retired from the local bench on a medical disability two years ago, appeared briefly yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge June L. Green. During that hearing, Larry A. Campbell (no relation to Judge Campbell), the general manager of Excavation Construction Inc., and the firm itself, also pleaded innocent to conspiracy, racketeering and bribery charges.
Both Campbells were released on their personal recognizance yesterday. They were then scheduled to report to an FBI office in Washington to be booked and fingerprinted.
Judge Campbell ignored reporters' questions as he left the courthouse yesterday. His attorney, R. Kenneth Mundy, said that Campbell "served the interest of justice when he was a judge" and said the trial in the case will rreflect Campbell's "excellent conduct and excellent demeanor on the bench."
A grand jury indictment charged last week that over a 12-year period, Judge Campbell told the firm's officials when he would be sitting in the city's traffic court and received cash payments, liquor, topsoil, a rotary garden tiller and other favors from the firm, including help in moving his furnishings to his current home in Northwest Washington.
The indictment alleged that Campbell twice signed orders in his chambers to release company dump trucks that had been impounded by police. The indictment said those orders were then turned over to a company employe.
Campbell was an assistant in the D.C. corporation counsel's office when the conspiracy allegedly began, and in 1968 was made head of that office's law enforcement section. As a local prosecutor, Campbell could dispose of traffic tickets before they reached the courtroom. Campbell was appointed to Superior Court by President Nixon in 1968. He drew frequent assignments to the traffic court, where judges can dismiss tickets or impose fines at a lower rate than the standard penalty.
According to the indictment, Campbell received at least $20,000 in cash, goods and services from Excavation Construction for dismissing about 1,064 tickets that had been issued to the firm dump trucks for weight restriction violations. Those tickets carry fines ranging from $100 to $300.
The conspiracy, racketeering and bribery charges carry total maximum penalties of 40 years in jail and fines of up to $55,000. The indictment also contains a special forfeiture charge that would force Larry Campbell -- a coowner of Excavation Construction -- to turn his share of the firm over to the government if he is convicted.