Michael T. Toole walked into the federal courthouse a judge on Tuesday morning. He walked out four-and-a-half hours later an admitted case-fixer and tax cheat facing more than three years in prison.
One of the U.S. marshals who passed the contents of Toole's pockets through an X-ray machine as the judge arrived at the courthouse Tuesday morning apologized sheepishly after asking for Toole's ID and realizing he was dealing with a judge.
"We don't see you up here enough," he said, smiling weakly.
Toole did not return the smile as he plodded toward his appearance in a fourth-floor courtroom to plead guilty to fraud and filing a false tax return.
The judge, who had kept up a cheerful and amiable front for months as rumors of impending federal charges swept the county courthouse, wore a grim and stoic visage all through his plea hearing Tuesday, telling U.S. District Judge Richard P. Conaboy:
"With the strength of my faith and the support of my family and friends, I am here to accept responsibility for what I've done and accept whatever punishment the court imposes."
Only after the hearing concluded did Toole break into a broad grin, turning toward his brother, Patrick, in the gallery, and saying: "I have to go get my mug shot now" as federal marshals and probation officials led him away for processing before releasing him on his own recognizance.
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