Niagara Gazette

August 7, 2009

TILLS CASE: Former judge gets prison sentence

Staff Reports

A retired New York judge is going to prison for procuring prostitutes for his social club.

Ronald H. Tills, 74, of Hamburg, was sentenced Friday in federal court to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty last year to transporting prostitutes across state lines.

Tills is the third man to be sentenced in connection with a federal prostitution sting involving local massage parlors.

Two other defendants — retired Lockport Police Captain John Trowbridge, 62, and Tills' former law clerk, Michael Stebick, 61 — had previously been sentenced.

Trowbridge received two years’ probation, and Stebick was given four months home confinement.

The men were all members of the Royal Order of Jesters, an international fraternal society.

Tills admitted last September to violating the Mann Act by transporting prostitutes across state lines. Trowbridge pleaded guilty to transporting the woman, an illegal alien identified in court papers as “Jane Doe No. 1,” to Kentucky, to engage in prostitution with members of the Royal Order of Jesters.

As part of his plea, Tills admitted to five additional occasions of transporting a woman across state lines for prostitution.

Allegations of prostitution led the Western District’s Human Trafficking Task Force and Alliance to conduct raids on four massage parlors in Lockport, Niagara Falls, Wheatfield and Tonawanda in December 2007.

The women working at the massage parlors were illegal aliens from Asia. Nine women were rescued from the parlors, where investigators said they were being held as virtual captives.