Former Judge Ronald Tills is being sentenced tomorrow for pleading guilty to violating the Mann Act. He was caught with two others in a FBI human trafficking sting for taking illegal alien prostitutes to weekend meetings of the Royal Order of Jesters so their Master Mason brothers could have sex.
The Jesters, like their parent organizations, the Shriners and Masons, are nonprofit groups, so it's like partying with prostitutes at taxpayer expense.
In his defense, pre-sentencing memoranda and letters of support have been submitted and are available on the United States federal court record system AKA PACER.
A few things bear discussion here but let's first review what happened.
The FBI had been watching four massage parlors near Buffalo, New York that were fronts for prostitution except that the girls working there were Asian illegal aliens. As agents watched and listened to phone conversations, they heard then Judge Ronald Tills calling the boss lady for appointments with the girls and to giving advice on how to keep them from talking because one had discovered that if she was arrested, she could become a legal resident.
Not only did Tills frequent the prostitutes, he began taking them to weekend meetings of the Royal Order of Jesters, a secret sub-group of the Shriners.
Yes, the Shriners.
They're best known for their red fezzes and driving goofy little cars in parades as they raise money to support their network of 22 hospitals that provide free medical care to burned and crippled children.
Most people can't wrap their heads around the fact that this secret group, the Jesters, descends from Freemasonry, a group of men who try to make themselves better while preaching brotherly love, tolerance and family values.
So, Judge Tills was busted with two other Jesters who have already been sentenced to probation, fined and must now register as sex offenders.
He's being sentenced tomorrow, Friday, August 7 and most likely will spend about two years in the slammer.
Either way, if he's in prison or somehow sentenced to probation like the other two, he's pretty much screwed.
Or maybe the better way to put it is marked for death.
As a judge, he sentenced many of the guys he might be hanging out with if he's sent to prison. His pre-sentencing memorandum states that he's had quadruple bypass surgery, has high blood pressure and is in poor health overall.
No one will need to shank him.
All they'll have to do is scare him to death.
I've been investigating the Shriners for over three years now and one of the most shocking things I've learned is that their bylaws state that Shrine law does not include the law of the land. And, like the Masons, if their secrets are revealed, bad things will happen.
Masonic secrecy vows state "I swear... binding myself under no less a penalty than that of having my throat cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots..."
The Masons swear to protect each other and even lie except in the cases of murder and treason. Other than that, anything goes. If you break them, they will cut you in half and burn your intestines and scatter you to the wind or something equally warm and fuzzy.
The Shriners will pierce your eyeball with a three bladed knife and flay your feet and send you out to walk the burning sands.
Judge Tills has cooperated with the government's investigation into the Royal Order of Jesters for sex trafficking and child sex tourism, much like the articles that have been written about Richard Schair, the former fishing tour operator who's close to being prosecuted in Brazil for rape, operating a prostitution network and corruption of minors. Schair came to my attention because he filed a defamation lawsuit against a competitor who produced a witness list in his defense that named 19 members of the Royal Order of Jesters who, as Schair's customers, were expected to testify about their first hand knowledge of sex with minor prostitutes.
Tills' pre-sentencing memorandum states that when he joined the Royal Order of Jesters, "the group's practice of inviting women, called 'Jester girls,' to the meetings for sexual activities was already a long-standing tradition. Every few years, a letter was sent out advising members that women should not be brought to Jester functions, but everyone knew that the letters were window dressing and not to be taken seriously. Indeed, women always were at Jester functions. The behavior was not isolated to the Buffalo group of Jesters. In fact, it was reported to have occurred at Jester meetings across the country. The motto taught to newcomers 'What you hear here, what you see here, stays here when you leave here' evidences the sort of activity expected at Jester meetings."
According to the memorandum, the judge recognized that what he saw at the time as friendship and camaraderie in a national organization really was morally bankrupt and often criminal. The judge arranged for women to travel to the various Jester meetings not to make money for himself or even for the organization but only because it was part of his "job description" as the Director of the Buffalo Chapter of the Jesters.
Judge Tills is the first to testify this extensively against this group and for doing so, is risking his life.
His attorneys probably should have asked for witness protection because there are 24,000 Jesters wishing he'd never been born.
Or if you look at it another way, Tills may have helped uncover the biggest front for prostitution ever, with over 20,000 potential "Johns" neatly recorded in membership rosters filed away at national headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. If these Jesters didn't participate in or arrange for the prostitution, they at least knew about it and, as such, are accessories who should have reported these crimes.
Instead, these Master Masons have protected each other.
Tills cooperation has opened up the floodgates and if the FBI continues investigating, they will find Jesters as deputy directors of law enforcement commissions, high ranking elected officials and even among their own.
One would think that there would be a huge outcry among the leaders of Freemasonry for the Jesters bringing such shame and bad PR to their doors. But the problem is that many of them attend the same weekend prostitution parties and even arrange for the girls to be there, just like Tills admitted to.
There is a good part in all of this and that is he's getting help for his alcoholism.
This next Saturday, I will celebrate 27 years of sobriety.
I know that we do things we're not proud of while drunk.
One of the most interesting things from Tills' memorandum is a letter from a service coordinator who works with Alcoholics Anonymous.
This is an unusual break from tradition but speaks highly of Tills dedication to living sober one day at a time. It's guys like this, who hit rock bottom, who can help other alcoholics recover more than anyone else.
More than doctors and chemical dependency counselors, it's the reaching out to another alcoholic, sitting down with them and a cup of coffee and letting them know they're not bad, just sick, and by going to meetings and living lives of service and gratitude, there is hope for recovery.
The United States position is that Tills didn't take prostitutes across state lines once or twice, like the other two he was caught with, but that he did it for years and should spend a couple years thinking about it in prison.
But what about his cooperation to help investigators uncover a nationwide network of prostitution that is part of the biggest nonprofit fraud of our time?
Even the U.S. Attorney's office describes the Royal Order of Jesters as an organization that "maintained chapters throughout the United States, including in Western New York, and it was the custom of these chapters to host periodic meetings, usually on weekends, for their members. At most of these meetings, some members of the organization would be tasked to arrange for the presence of women at the meetings, for the specific purpose of utilizing the women to engage in sexual intercourse and other sexual activity with the organization's members in exchange for money."
Judge Tills has risked his life and the lives of his loved ones by standing up to a group of men who want to see him dead for betraying their dirty little secret.
Remember, the Jesters are invited from the ranks of Shriner leaders who ruthlessly retaliate against those who expose the fact that they have long abused their positions of public trust for personal gain.
Yes, Judge Tills should indeed pay his debt to society.
But society will be better off if he's made an example of by suffering in public as the one who exposed the Royal Order of Jesters instead of spending the rest of his life locked away to suffer in silence.
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