District judge held for trial in extortion case

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A magisterial district judge accused of shaking down constables for campaign contributions has been ordered to trial.

All charges against Robert Jennings III were bound for court following a preliminary hearing Friday. The charges include theft by extortion, criminal coercion, and official oppression.

Authorities say Jennings, of Harrisburg, demanded constables give 10 percent of their earnings to his campaign fund when he sought re-election in 2009.

One constable told investigators the judge threatened to stop assigning work to him if he didn’t give money. He said he made a $2,000 donation because he feared for his job, according to the criminal complaint.

Another constable said he stopped getting work from Jennings’s office after he told the judge he would not make a campaign contribution.

Authorities say Jennings, 65, also asked police officers to drop parking tickets against him while they were in his office.

The Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board suspended Jennings with pay, but his attorney says he’s allowed to run for re-election until he’s convicted of a crime.

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