Norfolk General District Judge Joseph Campbell was sentenced to six months in jail yesterday for fixing a traffic ticket for a Virginia Beach prosecutor under fire for his driving record.
Judge William Sweeney of Bedford County, who was assigned the case after the Norfolk judges excused themselves, said it was important for people to know that high-ranking public officials will be punished if they break the law.
Campbell, 61, was convicted April 26 of felony forgery and malfeasance in office, a misdemeanor. A Circuit Court jury recommended a four-year prison sentence and a $1,000 fine.
Sweeney said he usually imposes a jury's recommendations, but in this case "it is the fact of incarceration, not the length of it, that is important."
Sweeney vacated the malfeasance charge, saying he was concerned it constituted double jeopardy by adding a second penalty for a single illegal act. The judge also placed Campbell on three years' probation.
Paul Sciortino, Virginia Beach commonwealth's attorney at the time of the March 1989 incident, was seeking reelection as a Democrat. His driving record had become an issue, in part because an accident of his had cost the resort city nearly $1 million.
Campbell is appealing his conviction and remains free on $5,000 bond.