A former Arkansas judge has been indicted on federal charges following accusations from dozens of men that they were given sentence reductions or had their cases dismissed in exchange for nude photos and sexual favors, PEOPLE confirms.
Joseph Boeckmann, 70, appeared in court on Monday — hours after prosecutors unsealed a 21-count Oct. 6 indictment against him on charges of bribery, tampering and wire fraud, among others.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held without bail, according to court records. Boeckmann served five years as a district judge for the First Judicial District of Arkansas until his resignation in May. The accusations against him first came to light last fall.
His defense attorney, who did not returns calls about the indictment, previously told PEOPLE that Boeckmann denies the allegations.
But federal prosecutors tell a different story, alleging that between 2010 and 2015 the ex-judge dismissed criminal cases against defendants who were willing to have sex with him, according to a copy of his indictment obtained by PEOPLE. Boeckmann’s indictment alleges he gave sentence reductions to at least nine men.
The defendants appeared before Boeckmann on misdemeanor charges or in traffic court, according to prosecutors.
The indictment further accuses Boeckmann of trying to influence a witness’ testimony about his alleged acts by having an associate threaten to make them “disappear.” He is also accused of trying to bribe a witness.
Boeckmann “dismissed traffic citations and misdemeanor criminal charges for young men in exchange for acts that he claimed were ‘community service,’ but which actually benefited Boeckmann himself,” prosecutors alleged in a statement.
Such accusations echo the former judge’s indictment, which alleges Boeckmann corruptly used his position “to obtain personal services, sexual contact and the opportunity to view and to photograph in compromising positions [defendants] who appeared before him in traffic and misdemeanor criminal cases in exchange for dismissing the cases.”
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Most of the complainants were assigned to work details at Boeckmann’s home. The indictment alleges the men were told to take off their shirts and were photographed by the former judge as they worked.
Some of the male defendants told investigators that Boeckmann allegedly gave them money so that he could spank them with a paddle. He later allegedly took photos of their red skin, according to prosecutors.
Other men alleged they posed nude for the former judge in exchange for money to pay off court fines.
At the time of his arrest, Boeckmann allegedly possessed more than 4,600 photos of nude or semi-nude men. Some of the men interviewed by police said they were underage at the time of their court cases.
Boeckmann is facing one count of federal program bribery, eight counts of wire fraud, two counts of witness tampering and 10 counts of violating the federal Travel Act (the latter because some of the men were allegedly required to travel from out of state to Boeckmann’s home to satisfy their bargains with him).
If convicted, he faces 20 years in prison on the wire fraud and witness tampering counts alone.
The bribery charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, while the other 10 counts carry a maximum of five years in prison.