Crime and Courts

Jan 13, 2012 5:01 PM by KBZK/KXLF Media Center

Former Butte judge's bribery accusations detailed

A news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office sheds more light on allegations that a former Butte judge took bribes.

Steve Kambich, 53, appeared in federal court in Missoula on Friday and pleaded guilty to bribery. His sentencing is set for April 13. He is currently released on special conditions.

According to the new release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI was alerted in March 2008 that Silver Bow County City Judge Steve Kambich was accepting bribes for dismissing traffic and other misdemeanor tickets. The FBI initiated an investigation, obtained bank records and conducted several interviews. During an investigation, the FBI reportedly found evidence of at least four cases of bribery in 2008 and 2009.

The release states that in January 2008, Kambich dismissed a ticket for no insurance, a second offense, in exchange for $250. He also reportedly dismissed a speeding ticket on the condition that the recipient of the ticket allow Kambich to place a campaign sign on the recipient's property.

Also in January 2008, Kambich is accused of dismissing another no insurance ticket in exchange for $400. The recipient of the ticket wrote the check to "Butte Silver Bow," but Kambich reportedly crossed out that information and wrote "Steve Kambich" in its place.

Then, in July 2009, Kambich dismissed a ticket for driving on a suspended license, and faxed documentation to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get the license reinstated, in exchange for $300 in cash, the release states.

When he was questioned by the FBI and IRS in July 2011, Kambich reportedly admitted to accepting money on about 10 occasions for dismissing tickets. He reportedly told investigators he was paid between $100 and $300 for each dismissed ticket.

Financial records reportedly show $13,900 in unexplained cash deposits into his back account in 2009.

Kambich faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

"There are few positions in the law more powerful than that of a judge. Judges have the authority to change individual lives with their actions. Former Silver Bow County City Judge Steve Kambich pled guilty today in Federal Court to accepting bribes - usually in the form of cash or checks - for dismissing traffic and other misdemeanor tickets. The prosecution of Kambich sends a strong message that public corruption will not be tolerated and when detected it will be prosecuted," U.S. Attorney Michael Cotter said in the release.

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