CONCORD, NH – A Circuit Court judge routinely signed documents sent to her for approval from a marital master without reading them, a practice that ultimately led to her investigation by the Judicial Conduct Committee and her arrest Thursday on five criminal offenses.
Judge Julie A. Introcaso, 56, of Bedford, who was appointed to the court in 2012, was arrested Thursday on two class B felony charges of falsifying physical evidence; two class A misdemeanor counts of tampering with public records or information, and one class A misdemeanor count of unsworn falsification.
The charges are tied to the parental case of Robin Partello v. David Campbell being heard in 9th Circuit Court, Hillsborough County – Family Division – Nashua.
In September 2019, Partello filed a complaint with the N.H. Supreme Court Committee on Judicial Conduct against Introcaso alleging she should have recused herself from the case because had a conflict of interest.
According to the committee’s investigation, Marital Master Bruce DalPra recommended that Attorney Kathleen Sternenberg be appointed theGuardian Ad Litem (GAL) in the case and on Oct. 24, 2019, Introcaso approved Sternenberg’s appointment.
Sternenberg, however, is on the judge’s recusal list since the two are good friends. In her answer to the complaint, Introcaso said she likely signed the order “without ever looking to see who he (DalPra) had appointed.”
She said there “simply isn’t enough time (to) read every order coming out of Nashua Family Division in detail.” She said orders recommended by DalPra “were usually signed without the most diligent review.”
Introcaso signed several more orders in the case, including one dated March 12, 2019, when she ordered Partello to pay Sternenberg’s $350 retainer by cash, check or money order. Partello wanted to use Apple Pay.
Three days later Introcaso issued a three-page hand-written order in which she recused herself from the case, explaining her conflict of interest and her “long-standing close friendship” with Sternenberg.
“The wisest course for this judge, and in an attempt to provide the parties with the most unbiased and fair hearing, is to simply withdraw as the presiding justice in this matter with regret as to the delay this may cause to the parties,” she wrote.
Introcaso also acknowledged she should have recused herself from the case back in October 2018 and that “in retrospect, my rulings and signatures may have created an impression with Ms. Partello that some impropriety on my behalf occurred.”
On Oct. 7, 2019, Introcaso took leave from her judicial duties but returned to work on Dec. 16, 2019.
In April 2020, the committee generated its own complaint against Introcaso based on the alleged alteration of court orders in the case file.
According to the committee’s statement of formal charges against the judge for violating the Code of Judicial Conduct, there is “compelling circumstantial evidence” that Introcaso whited out the Apple Pay Order and Fee Cap Order sometime between Jan. 6 and Jan. 9, 2020.in January 2020.
“At the time she knew that there was an ongoing investigation by the Committee with respect to her rulings on this order,” according to the committee’s statement of formal charges.
The committee said it is also possible Introcaso whited out the Apple Pay Order and Fee Cap Order at some other time, possibly as early as March 15, 2019, in which case the alleged alteration could constitute a misdemeanor of tampering with public records or information.
The evidence demonstrates that clerk Julianne Lodges brought Volume 1 of the Partello file to Introcaso’s chambers on Jan. 2, 2020, at the judge’s request so she could respond to the Partello complaint, according to the committee.
On Jan. 6, 2020, the judge discussed the Apple Pay Order with Clerk Sherry Bisson and showed Bisson the judge’s written margin order in the Partello file.
On Jan. 9, 2020, Introcaso showed clerk Julianne Lodes the Apple Pay Order had been whited out. The judge confronted Lodes about whether she had whited out the order; Lodes denied she had.
The committee said the evidence strongly supports either the judge altered or concealed the whited-out orders “with a purpose to impair its verity or availability to the committee investigating,” or she presented the whited-out order, which she had altered, “with a purpose to deceive a public servant who is or may be engaged in such proceeding or investigation,” which if true constitutes a felony charge of falsifying physical evidence.
Introcaso has yet to be arraigned on the charges.
The Judicial Conduct Committee set a Feb. 16 hearing in its case alleging violations of the Judicial Code of Conduct. The hearing is to be live-streamed
for the public.
Back in October 2018, Introcaso became involved with a family court case concerning a parenting petition, Robin Partello v. David Campbell, in 9th Circuit Court in Nashua and during the process of the case, realized later that an attorney, Kathleen Sternenberg, with whom she was a close friend, was appointed to be the guardian ad litum in the case. Sternenberg, however, was on her recusal list.
She subsequently signed several other orders in the case, including one preventing a woman from paying the attorney via apply pay. Eventually, realizing that her friend had been assigned as the guardian ad litem, Introcaso wrote an order recusing herself from the case resulting in the woman filing a complaint against her with the Judicial Conduct Committee.
An investigation was opened resulting…… signed documents presented to her by a marital master Overlooking that a good friend was being appointed as a guardian ad litem in a court case she was overseeing,Deputy Attorney General Jane E. Young announces the arrest today of Circuit Court Judge Julie A. Introcaso, age 56, of Bedford, New Hampshire on several felony and misdemeanor charges. Those charges consist of:
- Two class B felony counts of falsifying physical evidence (RSA 641:6) charging Judge Introcaso with, on or between January 6, 2020 and January 9, 2020, having been notified that an official proceeding was pending, that is, a Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) report had been filed against her and the JCC had elevated that report to a formal complaint on November 18, 2019, did alter two of her original handwritten orders issued on March 12, 2019—referred to as the Apple Pay Order and the Fee Cap Order—in the matter of Robin Partello v. David Campbell in the 9th Circuit Court – Family Division – Nashua, docket no. DN 659-2818-DM-0072, by apply white-out to the entirety of the original handwritten orders, and did so with the purpose to impair their verity or availability in the JCC matter.
- Two class A misdemeanor counts of tampering with public records or information (RSA 641:7) charging Judge Introcaso with, on or between January 6, 2020 and January 9, 2020 with knowingly making a false alteration to two of her original handwritten orders issued on March 12, 2019—referred to as the Apple Pay Order and the Fee Cap Order— in the matter of Robin Partello v. David Campbell in the 9th Circuit Court – Family Division – Nashua, docket no. DN 659-2818-DM-0072, by applying white-out to the entirety of the original handwritten orders, said orders being documents kept by the government for information or record.
- One class A misdemeanor count of unsworn falsification (RSA 641:3) charging Judge Introcaso with while acting a purpose to deceive a public servant in the performance of his or her official function, did make a written false statement which she did not believe to be true, when on or about April 3, 2020, Judge Introcaso sent a letter to the Judicial Conduct Committee (JCC) in response to the JCC’s inquiry opened pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 40(6) in which the JCC had asked Judge Introcaso whether she had altered and/or removed documents from the case file in the matter of Robin Partello v. David Campbell in the 9th Circuit Court – Family Division – Nashua, docket no. DN 659-2818-DM-0072, and in her response Judge Introcaso denied having obscured two court orders she had written on March 12, 2019—referred to as the Apple Pay Order and the Fee Cap Order—when in fact Judge Introcaso had applied white-out to the entirety of her original handwritten Apple Pay Order and Fee Cap Order in the Robin Partello v. David Campbell matter.
Judge Introcaso will be arraigned on a date and time to be determined by the Court.
The charges and allegations are merely accusations, and Judge Introcaso is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
After a five-month investigation, the state Attorney General announced Thursday it is filing felony charges against Judge Julie Introcaso of Bedford for allegedly tampering with court paperwork in an attempt to cover-up her failure to properly recuse herself from a child custody case.
In October, the Judicial Conduct Committee announced it was bringing forward a disciplinary matter against Introcaso, 56, for failing to recuse herself, despite a “long-standing close friendship” with one of the lawyers involved in the matter. The attorney general’s office announced at the same time that it was opening a criminal investigation into Introcaso’s alleged use of Wite-Out on court records to conceal her previous conduct.
Prosecutors allege that Introcaso, who has been a judge since 2012, oversaw a child custody case for approximately six months despite having a friendship with a lawyer who was serving as a guardian ad litem in the matter. During that six month window, Introcaso signed off on rulings that related to the guardian ad litem’s fees and his method of payment.
In March 2019, Introcaso recused herself from the matter citing her conflict of interest. After receiving a complaint from one of the parties in the case, the Judicial Conduct Committee then opened an investigation in the matter.
During that investigation, Introcaso is alleged to have taken the file into her private chambers and altered the court orders with Wite-Out.
Introcaso denied the claims when they were brought forward by the Judicial Conduct Committee.
She’s facing two felony counts of falsifying evidence, as well as two counts of tampering with public records.
Introcaso was scheduled to begin a multi-day hearing before the Judicial Conduct Committee next week that could ultimately result in her dismissal from the bench.