Waterloo Village isn’t the kind of place that makes the news much. It’s a tiny place in Seneca County, population just a hair over 5,000, located about 270 miles north of New York City. It’s so small and so quaint that one of its only judges, Justice Roger W. Barto, is also the sexton of the local cemetery. (A sexton oversees the graveyard’s maintenance. Most towns got rid of theirs a couple hundred years ago.) And he’s allegedly tripling up on roles this week, also becoming the town’s mastermind criminal. A Seneca County grand jury indicted the judge on five felony and four misdemeanor charges for allegedly lying about being viciously beaten with a toilet lid last fall.
On a Saturday night in September of 2013, Barto was discovered in his courtroom, lying on the floor. He was taken to Rochester Memorial Hospital, where he told police he’d been locking up the courtroom when someone choked him from behind and hit him over the head with the heavy porcelain lid of a toilet tank.
But the Seneca County District Attorney’s office apparently found something odd about the tale. Ten months ago, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, they quietly launched an investigation into Barto’s injury, along with the Waterloo police, the New York state police, the Seneca County sheriff, and the state worker’s compensation office. That last agency got involved because the judge collected worker’s compensation and medical benefits, albeit only about $3,000 worth.
Investigators haven’t released exactly how they found out Judge Toilet was allegedly making the incident up just yet. But Barto is accused of lying about the incident on insurance forms as well as lying to the police. He faces charges of grand larceny, corrupting the government, insurance fraud, falsifying business records and defrauding the government. Those are the felonies; the misdemeanors are false reporting of an incident, petit larceny and official misconduct. And because this story isn’t weird enough, he’s also accused of stealing gasoline from the graveyard, Maple Grove Cemetery. He’s pleaded not guilty to all charges and returns to court on August 11. In the meantime, the Waterloo citizenry fearing rogue toilet lid attacks can rest a little easier.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2014