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Higher court retains sentence on former judge over bribery

All Headlines 10:45 July 21, 2017

SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul appellate court on Friday retained the hefty sentence for a judge-turned-lawyer charged with taking bribes worth 10 billion won (US$8.92 million) for favors from her clients.

Upholding the lower court's ruling, the Seoul High Court sentenced Choi You-jeong to six years in prison.

The court ordered her to forfeit 4.3 billion won, reducing the amount from 4.5 billion won initially ordered by the lower court.

Choi was indicted in May last year and has since been detained on charges that she received kickbacks from two businessmen in return for helping them get weaker punishments.

She received 5 billion won from Jung Woon-ho, head of a mid-sized cosmetics chain who was in jail for illegal overseas gambling charges. She promised to help him get released on bail or a suspended sentence in an appeal.

She also took another 5 billion won in bribes from a top official of an investment advisory firm who was implicated in a financial fraud case. He was freed after Choi took up his case.

"As a former judge, the defendant took an unimaginable amount of money from her clients by peddling influence and giving them the wrong idea that they could solicit favors from the court," the court said in the ruling. "It is questionable if she earnestly admits her guilt or regrets her wrongdoing as she has tried to shuffle out of her responsibility with unconvincing excuses."

Choi is one of many in legal circles mired in Jung's lobbying scandal that has laid bare a sordid truth about corrupt ranking law enforcement officers and lawyers. The scandal, on top of other similar cases that followed, led the chief of the Supreme Court to issue a formal apology to public.

Choi You-jeong, a judge-turned-lawyer convicted of bribery charges in a high-profile lobbying scandal, walks her way into the courthouse covering her face with a towel for an appeals trial in Seoul on July 21, 2017. (Yonhap)


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