Pierce County judge found guilty on all counts

Pierce County judge found guilty on all counts »Play Video
Michael Hecht
TACOMA, Wash. -- Pierce County Judge Michael Hecht was found guilty Wednesday of harassment and patronizing a prostitute.

Hecht was accused of paying one man for sex multiple times and threatening another man who talked about having sex with him.

Hecht showed little emotion, but his wife wept in the front row.

The judge denied the allegations during the trial, claiming he's not a sex client but rather a grandfatherly type just trying to help people.

"He was on the street, he would come over and try to bum change, bum money," Hecht said of the key witness in the case against him, Joseph Pfeiffer, who testified Hecht paid him for sex many times.

Pfeiffer said he would hang out on Antique Row, where Hecht would pick him up in his car. He said the two would then go to a law office in north Tacoma where they'd have sex after business hours.

Hecht also denied making death threats against Joey Hesketh, a former male prostitute. He insisted he didn't know Hesketh before he confronted him in an alley last year.

After the verdict was delivered, Hecht lashed out.

"I say to the jurors, they were duped," Hecht said.

The judge had a message for police and prosecutors.

"Great job, you set me up," Hecht said. "What's very disappointing is that four drug addicts were completely coerced and set up."

But Asst. Attorney General John Hillman said he never saw any evidence of a setup.

"Obviously he believes that," Hillman said. "It's unfortunate that that's the way the investigation kind of got started with the son of the defeated judge providing some information."

The jury took about a day to return the guilty verdicts.

Hecht is technically still a judge, but he is on leave. He has a hearing next month before the Commission on Judicial Ethics. Then it will be up to the State Supreme Court to decide whether Hecht will removed from the bench.

In the meantime, Hecht is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 19.