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Ex-judge pleads guilty

Gigi Sullivan admits to drug, corruption charges

Friday, November 10, 2000

By Jim McKinnon, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Gigi Sullivan, the district justice who was removed from office amid allegations that she tipped off a drug dealer about investigations and offered him leniency in exchange for drugs, pleaded guilty yesterday to several charges.

Sullivan, 39, who was district justice in Springdale until her arrest last year, pleaded guilty to operating a corrupt organization, obstructing justice, hindering apprehension, bribery, conspiracy to deliver illegal drugs and conspiracy to commit forgery.

She also pleaded no contest to one count of forgery.

She faces up to 60 years in prison when she is sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Robert E. Colville Jan. 24.

Sullivan is the 12th person to plead guilty this year in connection with a state attorney general's investigation of a drug trafficking ring based in Penn Hills.

The alleged ringleader, Donald Geraci, who has prior convictions for drug-related offenses, testified against Sullivan at a preliminary hearing. He is scheduled for trial on the latest charges in January. At least five others are awaiting trial in the case.

Several defendants were prepared to testify against Sullivan had she gone to trial.

Her defense attorneys, Patrick Thomassey and Charles Porter, said Sullivan wanted a nonjury trial before Colville. But Deputy Attorney General Donna McClelland, the lead prosecutor, demanded a jury trial.

"This is a public official and a jury is the best way for the public to participate in the case," McClelland said in an interview after Sullivan's plea.

"This is someone who sold out her office, sold out the public and sold out the police to support her addiction."

Thomassey said that as a first-time offender, Sullivan deserves a minimal sentence -- as little as nine months, possibly in alternative housing, which he said is within sentencing guidelines.

Since Sullivan's arrest, she has pleaded guilty to two separate shoplifting counts, in Natrona Heights and at a military base in New Jersey.

She was fined $500 and is serving two years' probation in those cases.

Geraci told investigators that he and Sullivan used cocaine in her Springdale judicial office and that she used her influence to help him smuggle contraband to a friend who was in the Allegheny County Jail.

The state Supreme Court stripped her of her duties when she was indicted, and she was defeated for re-election last November.

Sullivan had no comment as she left Colville's courtroom. She remained free on bond, pending sentencing.

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