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County Judge Approved His Own Application for 17 Concealed Firearms
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He made a petition for the license of three guns, made 14 amendments to that application, and granted himself the license of 17 concealed weapons, being the only county judge and the county’s sole firearm licensing officer in Tioga.

The matter came to light when Tioga County Judge Vincent Sgueglia was attempting to repair one of his guns, a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson in his chambers and the gun went off with a bullet hitting the concrete wall. This happened in January 2010. Finally, on Monday, the state Commission on Judicial Conduct announced the judge will be censured.

The commission observed, “Handling a gun in his chambers showed a lack of good judgment and a notable disregard for the safety of others … Every year, the accidental discharge of firearms is responsible for hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries in the United States.”

  
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It is a hard time for the judge to be censured, as it is only this year that he reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 – he accepted the censure without any argument, and agreed not to serve as a judicial hearing officer after the end of his current term on December 31.

According to the commission’s report, Sgeueglia submitted the application to carry concealed pistols in 2005, and after the Sheriff’s department formally completed the background check, Sgeueglia approved his own application, which by that time included 14 amendments ending in the license to 17 concealed weapons.

Did this county judge think war was coming?

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According to the commission, the judge said that he began carrying a gun after he was threatened on two occasions, including once by a man wielding a pickax. The judge also informed that he was on several occasions stalked by unidentified drivers when he left the courthouse. In 2010, the same year when the incident of the gun going off in the judge’s chambers happened, an inmate in Tioga County jail was charged with hiring a fellow inmate to kill the judge.

Though eight commission members voted against the judge, one commission member dissented holding that accidental firing did not amount to censurable judicial misconduct. Also Sgeueglia has not been charged with a crime though the village where the courthouse is situated has a local ordinance prohibiting the use of a firearm.



In the matter, the commission took the self-approval of weapon permits seriously and observed, “A judge may not exercise his or her decision-making authority for the judge’s personal benefit … By approving his own application for a pistol permit, the respondent clearly violated this fundamental precept.”



 

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