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Philly judge found to have violated the judicial ethics code in legal feud with Montco fitness club

Judge Scott DiClaudio was found to be in violation of the judicial ethics code by the Pennsylvania Court of Judicial Discipline.

Judge Scott DiClaudio shown here in his courtroom, at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA, October 17, 2019
Judge Scott DiClaudio shown here in his courtroom, at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA, October 17, 2019Read moreJESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

A Philadelphia judge violated the state judicial ethics code by repeatedly defying court orders to pay back thousands of dollars in dues money owed to a Bala Cynwyd “fitness and socializing club” and by mishandling his financial disclosures, the state Court of Judicial Discipline has ruled.

In a 32-page opinion filed Tuesday, it said that Common Pleas Court Judge Scott DiClaudio conducted himself in a manner that suggested he felt he was above the law.

DiClaudio was formally charged a year ago by the state’s Judicial Conduct Board for repeatedly disregarding a judge’s orders in a civil case filed by the Cynwyd Club, and for failing to disclose tax liens placed on his assets by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.

The opinion outlined how DiClaudio ignored the Cynwyd Club’s lawsuit at nearly every step for four years.

Eventually, in October 2019, DiClaudio agreed to pay the club $9,500 after appearing in Norristown to settle the case, but the Judicial Discipline Court said that as a result of his behavior, DiClaudio brought “the judicial office into disrepute.”

His punishment will be determined at a sanctions hearing that has not been scheduled.

While the Cynwyd Club case was being investigated, the members of the Judicial Conduct Board also found that DiClaudio repeatedly failed to disclose tax liens on his annual statements of financial interest. The form requires judicial officers to disclose any debts over $6,500 and to whom.

This marks the fifth time that DiClaudio has been punished by the conduct board. In 2016, Justice Debra McCloskey Todd of the state Supreme Court told the judge: “This court will not tolerate serial misconduct. Any future misconduct will result in prompt and considerable punishment.”

DiClaudio was not immediately available for comment.