An acting judge in the village of Waterloo, Seneca County, is taking a leave of absence from his duties on the bench and as a sexton at a village cemetery.
Judge Roger Barto claimed he was assaulted August 31, 2013 as he left Waterloo Village Court following an arraignment. Barto told police he was strangled and hit over the head with a lid from a toilet tank.
"We were in on the case immediately. When a judge gets attacked, law enforcement was informed immediately and they started working on it before the ambulance even got there. The police were working on the case taking photos, talking to people,” said Seneca County District Attorney Barry Porsch.
Following an investigation, a Seneca County Grand Jury indicted Barto on nine counts, including grand larceny, corrupting the government, insurance fraud, falsifying business records, and defrauding the government – all felonies.
Barto is now accused of reporting an incident that didn't occur, for which he received medical services, along with workers compensation benefits paid for by Seneca County. Misdemeanor charges are related to the alleged theft of gasoline from a village cemetery where Barto works.
"Until we receive further information, we really don't know in what way these might possibly be connected. We have yet to receive, other than this simple indictment, we really don't have any other information of what the allegations are or if they might in any way be connected,” said defense attorney Gary Muldoon.
Barto pleaded not guilty on Monday. He'll return for a conference on August 11. That conference will be between a judge, Porsch and Muldoon. Porsch says a possible plea deal may be discussed.
"The defendant has asked for discovery and I'm going to comply with that very quickly, hand over my discovery to him so the defense counsel will know what the case is about. Then we're going to meet with the judge on August 11 and possible talk about a resolution on that date,” said Porsch.
Waterloo mayor Ted Young granted Barto a leave of absence until the case is resolved.
"Obviously, he's very concerned, as is his family. His family and friends are very supportive. He's been a judge for a while and has a good reputation in the community and he has received a lot of community support,” Muldoon said.
The charges against Barto carry a maximum penalty of seven years in state prison.