NEW ORLEANS -- Mounting questions about where New Orleans First City Court Judge Sonja Spears lives come with some mounting tax bills for the judge, and her husband, local attorney Ike Spears.
Documents obtained by Eyewitness News show the Spears owe nearly $650,000 in federal and state taxes in Louisiana. According to tax liens recorded in Orleans Parish and dating back to 2006, the Spears owe $424,665.78 in unpaid federal taxes and $222,250.70 in state taxes.
Judge Spears could be in even more legal trouble because of a federal subpoena issued to the clerk of First City Court Tuesday, requesting documents dealing with her personnel file, any and all payments made to her, including payroll, credit card expenses, and even security video from the court, which would seemingly be used to track her comings and goings.
That may be because Judge Spears appears to be living at least part of the time at a home she and her husband own in Needham, Massachusetts. Spears is originally from Massachusetts and has her children enrolled in school there.
A county assessor web page shows the house the Spears purchased in the Boston suburb of Needham in May 2007, for $1.4 million. According to mortgage documents, the Spears made a $572,000 downpayment on the 5,000 square foot home, leaving a mortgage of more than $850,000.
As further proof of her ties to the area, an item in a 2008 school alumni magazine from Beaver Country Day School, where Spears graduated, reports that the judge 'moved her family from New Orleans to Needham last summer.' The article continues, 'She (Spears) writes 'Our boys are thrilled to be back at Beaver (school).''
In a statement, Judge Spears says she has never hidden the fact that she owns property in Massachusetts, or sends her children to school there.
'Indeed, as an elected judge, she has reported that property as required. Equally as important, she is not the only local judge or elected official who owns property outside of Louisiana or who has allowed his/her children to attend school outside of Louisiana post-Katrina,' her statement continues.
Spears' statement does acknowledge some serious medical issues recently, which she says have forced her to seek treatment there. The statement said Spears has had two major surgeries in the past two years, but explains that she sought and was granted leave for those medical issues and 'volunteer judges were appointed by the Supreme Court at no cost to the taxpayers.'
The statement goes on to say that 'as a very private person...it is highly upsetting for her to reveal her health battles. Sadly, Judge Spears feels forced to do so in order to defend her good name.