|Former Judge Thomas M. Nocella|
The decision is the latest action against Nocella, 71. In 2013, he was permanently barred from holding a judgeship for a variety of reasons, including failing to disclose to the Philadelphia Bar Association such things as judgments against him and his troubles with the city ethics board.
In revoking his law license, the Supreme Court's disciplinary board said Nocella's "transgressions offend both the public and the bar and bring disrepute to the profession." The board also cited a case in which he collected $1,875 for work in a divorce case that he never performed.
Neither Nocella nor his lawyer, Samuel Stretton, could be reached for comment Tuesday.
The disbarment takes effect Nov. 19, but the phone to Nocella's law office, at 4000 Gypsy Lane in East Falls, has already been disconnected.
A longtime Democratic City Committee insider and associate of U.S. Rep. Robert Brady (D., Pa.), Nocella was appointed in 2008 as an interim Municipal Court judge by then-Gov. Ed Rendell.
In 2011, he ran a successful campaign to become a Common Pleas Court judge.
In that campaign, he had sought the coveted "recommended" rating from the Philadelphia Bar Association. To win the rating, the Court of Judicial Discipline later found, he committed serious violations. It said Nocella failed to disclose that he faced $1.7 million in liens and judgments. He also did not give the bar association details on a city Board of Ethics contempt citation over his representation of a political action fund connected to Carol Ann Campbell, a late city councilwoman, ward leader, and secretary of the Democratic City Committee.
After his election in November 2011, The Inquirer reported that Nocella had been embroiled in a dispute over a 2005 sale of property belonging to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6627 in Manayunk. In a deposition taken as part of a lawsuit, Nocella admitted that he received $60,000 in legal fees after falsely claiming he was the secretary of the post when he was not even a member.
Nocella began serving as a Common Pleas Court judge in January 2012.
Documents released Tuesday said Nocella collected $1,875 to handle a woman's divorce case just before his 2011 election to Common Pleas Court. He did not file the necessary paperwork in the divorce case and did not return the fee, despite the woman's attempts to obtain repayment.
In March 2013, the woman filed a disciplinary complaint against Nocella. Three months later, Nocella repaid the money, the disciplinary board found.
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Pa. Supreme Court panel disbars Thomas Nocella, former Phila. judge