A former New York state judge was sentenced Wednesday to a year and three months in prison after her conviction for obstructing a probe into financial wrongdoing at a credit union that provides banking services to tens of thousands of New York City employees, including police and firefighters.
Ex-State Supreme Court Justice Sylvia Ash, 64, was sentenced by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan after her December conviction on charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making a false statement to a federal agent in an investigation of the Municipal Credit Union.
“These crimes struck at the heart of the criminal justice system,” Kaplan said of a judge who stepped down from her judicial position only last month.
The judge said Ash, born in London, impressively rose from modest origins to “one of the most important judicial positions in the state."
“But you lost it all,” he said, citing her “dishonest, corrupt and frankly outrageous actions.”
Before the sentence was announced, Ash said she felt “remorse, shame and embarrassment” after she “disappointed so many.”
She said she had “achieved the American dream” before the crimes “ruined my life.”
“Because of my actions, the reputation I spent a lifetime building has been destroyed and I have no one to blame but myself,” Ash said.
During Ash's trial, prosecutors said she took actions over many months to obstruct the investigation into financial misconduct at the credit union while she chaired its board of directors.
The credit union is a nonprofit financial institution headquartered in New York City with more than $4.2 billion in accounts as it provides banking services to over a half million members.
Authorities said the financial crimes occurred while Ash, a Brooklyn judge, was on the credit union’s board of directors from May 2008 to August 2016, when she resigned. She had served as the board’s chair from May 2015 until her resignation.
In a release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said she committed her crimes as she tried to protect financial crimes carried out by the now-imprisoned former chief executive of the credit union who provided her with numerous benefits.
Prosecutors said Ash received tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursements and other benefits from the credit union from 2012 through 2016, including airfare, hotels and entertainment, along with annual birthday parties at a minor league baseball stadium and payment for phone, cable bills and electronic devices.
As a sitting state judge, Ash was required to report gifts and benefits from any outside sources on an annual state disclosure form, but prosecutors said she never reported gifts or benefits from the credit union between 2012 and 2018.