N.J. judge accused of ‘harboring fugitive boyfriend’ fighting to keep her job

Brady currently resides in Central New Jersey with her husband and their 4-year-old son.

By Cristina DC Pastor

This is the convoluted story of a Filipina judge in New Jersey accused in 2013 of “harboring” a fugitive boyfriend, cleared in 2018 of all charges, and is now fighting to keep her position as a member of the bench.

Superior Judge Carlia Brady, 47, was suspended without pay, lost her home, incurred legal fees and other expenses, and moved back in with her parents. After five years, she was cleared of the criminal misconduct and reinstated to her old position. However, in the midst of starting to pick up the pieces of her fractured life, comes a motion from the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct of the Supreme Court of New Jersey (ACJC) recommending she be removed as a judge. Brady considers this latest move as harsh and malicious, and she is fighting back.

Some members of the Filipino community who are following the case are left to wonder about this latest move after charges have been dismissed.

At the crux of the “harboring” case, which received wide media coverage, were two significant dates:  June 10 and June 11, 2013.

On June 10, Brady reported her car missing after her then live-in boyfriend Jason Prontnicki failed to return it.  The Woodbridge Township Police Department (WTPD) ran a background check and discovered Prontnicki was wanted for bank robbery and illegal possession of weapons. Brady said she was not aware of his criminal background. It was agreed that she would call WTPD when Prontnicki showed up to return the car.

WTPD said Brady did not call when Prontnicki came to her house on June 10 to return her car.  She also, as alleged by WTPD, did not call when he came back the following day to get his belongings.

Brady insisted she did call on both days and actually left two voice messages with police officer Robert Bartko to whom she reported the missing car.  She said in court papers she could not call WTPD while Prontnicki was inside her home because she was “afraid for her safety and the safety of her elderly parents” as he may be armed and dangerous.

What happened next, according to a civil complaint filed by Brady’s lawyers at Hinson Snipes, LLP, “Judge Brady…was handcuffed, arrested, transported to headquarters by (officer) Bartko, and shackled to a wall at headquarters. Defendants then threw Judge Brady into a holding cell with other prisoners.”

In the civil action filed against the Woodbridge Township, Brady’s lawyers maintained the arrest was “false and fabricated,” and that the judge committed no crime.

Brady at a court appearance in 2015. Photo: Mycentraljersey.com

Although the indictment was dismissed and Brady was ordered reinstated on March 6, 2018, the ACJC has filed on September 16 a formal complaint asking for her removal from the bench. The ACJC court document was signed by Stephen Skillman, Vice Chair; and Edwin Stern, Panel Chair. It was noted in the document that Chairperson Virginia A. Long did not participate.

The ACJC states that Brady violated provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct, citing the circumstances of June 10 and 11, 2013.

“Respondent, having demonstrated a predilection toward dishonest conduct both when dealing with authorities in a criminal context and when defending against these ethics charges, has irreparably impugned her character for truthfulness and has rendered her continued credible service as a jurist untenable.

“Given the totality of Respondent’s conduct on June 10 and 11, 2013, we find that no remedy short of removal will properly safeguard the public’s confidence in our system of justice.”

Brady is determined to fight her “continuing persecution,” according to close family friends.

“Judge Brady remains strong with the help of God’s grace and support of her family and friends, who believed in her innocence since the beginning of her ordeal.”

Brady is the daughter of Oscar and Ophelia Magpantay from San Carlos City in the Philippines.  In 1976, she immigrated to the U.S. with her parents and younger brother.  Carlia and her family have resided in Central New Jersey for the last 43 years.

Oscar Magpantay was an accountant in the Philippines and worked as a laborer in the U.S.  Ophelia Magpantay was a teacher of the severely handicapped.  They are now retired and are active members of the San Carlos City Negros Occidental Organization – USA Chapter (SCCNOO-USA), a Filipino cultural group that raises funds for the education of needy children in San Carlos City.

She graduated from theSeton Hall University School of Law and has an undergraduate degree from Rutgers College. Prior to her confirmation to the Superior Court of Middlesex County, she served as a law clerk for three judges in the Superior Court of New Jersey. She would later go into private practice with top New Jersey firms Peckar & Abramson and Stark & Stark. She has been called a “rising star” following her confirmation and widely respected for her “solid trial experience” and “sharp intellect.”

On April 5, 2013, she was sworn in as the first Filipino-born Superior Court Judge in Middlesex County. Two months later, this incident that began with a missing car happened.

© The FilAm 2019

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