BEDFORD, Pennsylvania — A former top prosecutor was spared any time in jail after he pleaded guilty to forcing female drug defendants to give him sexual favors in return for lesser sentences.
William Higgins, Jr., 43, had served as district attorney in the Pennsylvania town of Bedford for 14 years. He was charged earlier this year with with protecting female drug defendants and revealing the identities of confidential informants to them in exchange for sex.
He was disbarred last month.
Instead of serving any time behind bars, Higgins was sentenced to $9,700 in fines, eight years of probation, 1,125 hours of community service and 120 days of house arrest.
“We’re extremely pleased with the results of the sentencing hearing,” his attorney, Steven Passarello, told the Altoona Mirror. “We believe the sentence was fair, and we believed it balanced the sentencing factors appropriately.”
State attorney general Josh Shapiro said now, “Higgins will never again be able to use the tools of a prosecutor’s office to commit these crimes.”
Bedford resident Robert Lewis, whose daughter died of a drug overdose, said he was appalled at the decision because Higgins had allowed pushers to remain on the streets.
“Your everyday citizen is not going to get that kind of consideration,” Lewis said. “Who else is going to get that kind of favoritism? Nobody. Nobody.”
In court, Higgins argued that he had made poor choices during a time when he was abusing alcohol and hand mended his ways.
“I’m deeply sorry,” he told the court room. “I’ve accepted full responsibility for my actions.”