A former municipal court judge in nine Monmouth County towns illegally fixed motor vehicle tickets so that the towns that paid his hefty salary could pocket the fines instead of splitting the fees with the county.

Richard Thompson, 62, of Middletown, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree falsifying records. The plea deal is expected to spare him from jail, but he no longer will be allowed to work in the public sector in the state.

Prosecutors said Thompson converted the motor vehicle tickets to contempt-of-court charges.

Municipalities split tickets 50-50 with their counties, while tickets issues by state troopers are paid entirely to the state. Contempt of court fines, however, are kept by the municipalities were the courts operate.

Thompson worked as a judge from January 2010 to October 2015 for Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Middletown, Neptune City, Oceanport, Rumson, Tinton Falls and Union Beach. The jobs paid him a combined $217,400 a year.

Not only did Thompson rip off the county, but critics say he was known to pressure defendants into taking bad deals, the Asbury Park Press reported in 2015.

He was suspended without pay in 2015 after authorities figured out his scheme.

Prosecutors say Thompson fixed about 4,000 tickets, amounting to more than half a million of fines.

“County residents who appear before judges do so with the rightful expectation that those entrusted with black robes will be honest and forthright, and uphold the highest principles of integrity," Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement Friday. "Our legal system depends on this public trust and confidence, and we reference judges as ‘Your Honor’ for this very reason. Thompson’s persistent disregard for these principles, and manipulation of the municipal court system, betrayed this sacred trust."

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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