Among the findings uncovered during the Justice Department's investigation of the Ferguson Police Department was attorneys, officers, and court officials using the system to erase traffic violations and fines for their friends and family.
Ferguson municipal Judge Ronald J Brockmeyer, who is at the center of the scandal, owes $170,000 in unpaid taxes according to a report from The Guardian.
Ronald J Brockmeyer, whose court allegedly jailed impoverished defendants unable to pay fines of a few hundred dollars, has a string of outstanding debts to the US government dating back to 2007, according to tax filings obtained by the Guardian from authorities in Missouri.
Brockmeyer, 70, was this week singled out by Department of Justice investigators as being a driving force behind Ferguson’s strategy of using its municipal court to aggressively generate revenues.
This (page 77) is how the Department of Justice described the situation.
Even as Ferguson City officials maintain the harmful stereotype that black individuals lack personal responsibility — and continue to cite this lack of personal responsibility as the cause of the disparate impact of Ferguson’s practices -- white City officials condone a striking lack of personal responsibility among themselves and their friends. Court records and emails show City officials, including the Municipal Judge, the Court Clerk, and FPD supervisors assisting friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and themselves in eliminating citations, fines, and fees.
Brockmeyer is the man behind the curtain and the one who is chiefly responsible for turning Ferguson jails into de factor debtors prisons. And, as the Guardian points out, Brockmeyer also serves as a prosecutor for neighboring cities.
Between civil lawsuits filed against the city and the threat of intervention by the Department of Justice, it's hard to envision how the city of Ferguson can continue to exist in its current form. City officials and the local judiciary have no credibility and they will no longer be able to depend on erroneous fines and court fees to generate revenue.
To use a technical term, it's a goddamn mess. There are indications that the situation in neighboring cities isn't much, if at all, better.
(map via Google)