The former Liberty County judge is cleared for now of charges he misappropriated money that was supposed to be used for cleaning up after Hurricane Ike. But the judge may still have to face trial at some point.
A federal judge dismissed the indictment of former Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald at the request of prosecutors. The U.S. attorney’s office says it needs time to do more investigation into allegations that Fitzgerald misappropriated funds intended for cleanup after hurricane Ike struck in 2008.
Last year under a plea agreement Fitzgerald had already plead guilty in return for three years probation and a $75,000 dollar fine. But the judge presiding over the case rejected that plea deal saying granting probation would allow Fitzgerald to get off too lightly.
The defense attorney in this case says his client did nothing illegal, explaining Fitzgerald only plead guilty in order to get probation and not risk being convicted and then face the possibility of getting up to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors reserve the right to try an re-indict the former Liberty County judge.