Ronald H. Tills, a retired acting New York Supreme Court justice and Court of Claims judge, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Buffalo, N.Y., to violating the federal Mann Act by transporting a prostitute across state lines.
Tills, 73, admitted before Judge William Skretny of the Western District of New York that he recruited prostitutes to service members of a fraternal club, the Royal Order of Jesters, at gatherings in Pennsylvania, Florida, Kentucky and Ontario, N.Y., in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
In his plea agreement with Western District U.S. Attorney Terrance P. Flynn, Tills also acknowledged arranging for women to attend a meeting of the Buffalo chapter of the Jesters in 2001 in Dunkirk, N.Y., to have sex with members of the club. He faces from 27 months to 33 months in prison during sentencing, which Skretny scheduled for Jan. 12.
Tills' lawyer, Terrence M. Connors of Connors & Vilardo in Buffalo, said in an interview Thursday that Tills "accepted responsibility for his actions and admitted in court that he committed a crime, that his conduct was wrong and his judgment was horrible." Tills also agreed to aid in the prosecution of others involved in the procurement of prostitutes, a role that could earn him a shorter prison sentence, Connors said.
Tills, of Hamburg, Erie County, was a judge from 1995 until his retirement in 2005. He resigned in March as part-time judicial hearing officer for the state as the FBI and U.S. Border Patrol agents investigated allegations of his involvement with prostitutes and the Jesters' organization, Connors said. Tills was also a Republican state assemblyman from 1969-77.