Pennsylvania Judge Charged With Using Campaign Money to Fuel Six-Figure Gambling Habit

  • Michael Cabry III was charged with theft and election code violations by a grand jury
  • Cabry is accused of using $4,000 in campaign finance funds to gamble at regional casinos
  • Alleged illegal purchases included hotel stays, food, and cash withdrawals at casinos
  • Court documents revealed that in 2017 Cabry spent $110,782 at Delaware Park Casino
Chester County PA historical marker
Chester County judge Michael Cabry III has been arrested and charged with using several thousand dollars in funds from his re-election campaign finance account to gamble at casinos. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Judge frequented several casinos

Chester County, Pennsylvania Magisterial District Judge Michael Cabry III, 59, has been charged with using $4,000 from his campaign finance account to feed a six-figure gambling habit at various casinos in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Cabry was arrested Tuesday and charged Wednesday with theft and election code violations by a statewide grand jury. Announcing the charges, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the judge broke the law “and undermined public trust in government” by using campaign contributions not intended for his personal benefit.

took advantage of the trust placed in him by supporters and the public.”

Shapiro highlighted that Cabry’s role as public official and candidate meant he had a duty to uphold the law. But, instead of serving with integrity, Cabry “took advantage of the trust placed in him by supporters and the public.”

In a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer, an executive order issued prior to Wednesday’s charges stripped Cabry of his duties and barred him from entering the courthouse. Any cases he was presiding over will be assigned to other district judges.

Hand in the cookie jar

According to the official press release from the Attorney General’s office, Cabry set up a political action committee (PAC) called Citizens for Cabry in 2016. The PAC, which was created for the purpose of collecting and spending campaign donations solely for Cabry’s 2017 re-election campaign, was in line with Pennsylvania campaign finance law.

supported a six-figure gambling habit”

But Cabry is accused of making “dozens of purchases” on the PAC’s debit card which were of a personal nature and unconnected to his re-election campaign. The purchases in question included laundry services, food purchases, hotel visits, and cash withdrawals at casinos, which court documents said “supported a six-figure gambling habit.”

Cabry’s allegedly illicit purchases made at casinos in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were subsequently recorded as reimbursements in his campaign finance records.

The ATM withdrawals include $205 at Hollywood Casino in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, $205.99 at Harrah’s Casino in Chester County, Pennsylvania, $204.99 from Delaware Park Casino in Wilmington, Delaware, and three separate withdrawals amounting to $751.98 in Ventnor, New Jersey, and from Bally’s Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. A further $200 was withdrawn at Dover Downs Casino in Dover, Delaware, on the same day the accused paid $489 at a Microtel Inn hotel in Dover.

High roller

Cabry had served as a judge in Chester County since the year 2000. In 2017, he ran unopposed and was re-elected to another six-year term.

Court documents reveal that in 2017, Gabry spent a total of $110,782.62 at Delaware Park Casino. He won $101,709.11 at the casino the same year, reducing his total losses to $9,073.51.

Dawson R. Muth, Cabry’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Deputy AG Megan Madaffari, with the investigation conducted in tandem with the Judicial Conduct Board and the FBI. A preliminary hearing has been set for October 26.

In another high-profile case ensnaring a member of the legal profession this year, the self-fashioned New York “Lottery Lawyer” Jason Kurland was indicted in August for a $107m scheme to defraud lottery winners.