Township employee pleads guilty

The former Director of Public Safety in Lower Southampton Township has pleaded guilty to money laundering and extortion

By Tom Waring

The Times

Robert P. Hoopes, 71, of Doylestown, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty last week to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right.

From February 2016 until December 2016, Hoopes was the Director of Public Safety in Lower Southampton Township.

According to the U.S. Attorney, from 2014 to 2016, Hoopes solicited, extorted and attempted to extort bribes and kickbacks from individuals and businesses in exchange for his influence over Lower Southampton Township’s Board of Supervisors, solicitor, officers and employees.

For example, Hoopes solicited bribe payments from Robert A. DeGoria, who was then the vice president of an outdoor advertising company, in exchange for offering his influence to reduce lease payments that the company owed to Lower Southampton Township.

In November 2016, Hoopes and co-defendant Bernard T. Rafferty, who was then a deputy constable in Bucks County, accepted a bribe of $1,000 as well as the promise of other fees, in exchange for Hoopes and Rafferty using their positions as public officials to “fix” a traffic case in Bucks County Magisterial District Court.

Additionally, from June 2016 to August 2016, Hoopes, Rafferty and co-defendant Kevin M. Biederman, who was then a business development manager at Philadelphia Federal Credit Union, laundered $400,000 in cash, represented to be proceeds from health care fraud and illegal drug trafficking, and accepted money laundering fees totaling $80,000 in cash.

Hoopes faces a maximum possible sentence of 100 years in federal prison for his crimes. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 17.

Rafferty previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and honest services mail fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 9.

Biederman previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and bank bribery. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 8.

DeGoria previously pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to federal agents. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 6.

The case was investigated by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service — Criminal Investigations, the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and the Pennsylvania State Police, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Vineet Gauri. ••