Moments after his acquittal during the summer in a sweeping federal ticket-fixing case, a defiant Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Michael J. Sullivan said: "As far as I am concerned, I was indicted for doing my job."
Now, state judicial authorities hope to block him from ever returning to that post.
On Monday, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board filed its own charges against Sullivan, 50, saying the court's culture of cronyism depicted at his trial undermined public confidence in the judicial system.
The board also lodged a new accusation: That he ordered his assistant to falsify documents in 2012 for a cousin who was on a payment plan with the court.
"If Judge Sullivan is permitted to preside over cases in Philadelphia Traffic Court . . . the public's confidence in the judiciary will continue to erode," wrote James P. Kleman, deputy counsel for the board.
Sullivan's lawyer, Samuel C. Stretton, who has represented several former Traffic Court judges in hearings before the state's Court of Judicial Discipline, said his client is eager to finish out the three years left on his six-year term.
"He contends he did nothing wrong," Stretton said. "So we're going to fight."
The conduct board's move Monday is part of a roller-coaster two years for Sullivan, a South Philadelphia tavern owner and former Democratic ward leader who had no legal training before his election in 2005.
Federal authorities said in a January 2013 indictment that he and several other of the court's judges doled out preferential treatment for years to friends, family, and political allies. State judicial authorities suspended all of them within weeks of charges being filed.
This summer, however, a federal jury acquitted five, including Sullivan, with jurors saying they believe the judges' lapses were ethical rather than criminal.
The jury found four of the judges guilty of lying to authorities about their ticket fixing. Sullivan, who never testified before the federal grand jury, was the lone judge to walk away free.
Since then, he has fought to collect his $90,000-a-year salary for the nearly two years he has been suspended - an effort bolstered last month, when the state Supreme Court lifted its suspension of the judge. A similar suspension order from the state's Court of Judicial Discipline remains in place.
Stretton said Monday that Sullivan has offered to walk away from his job if the state agrees to protect his pension and pay him for the rest of his term, which ends in 2017.
State lawmakers dismantled Traffic Court last year in light of the indictment and replaced its elected judges with hearing officers appointed by Municipal Court.
Judge Christine Solomon, who was not charged in the federal case, remains the only elected judge on Traffic Court, in a position that will close after her term ends in three years. On Friday, the Supreme Court closed a case against her for similar ethics charges.