President Judge John Trucilla officially sealed nearly 3,000 civil cases that were mis-filed as criminal cases, the court announced Monday.

This comes after an audit by Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale revealed nearly 900 cases where charges were were improperly filed by a former Erie County district judge. Trucilla confirmed to Erie News Now that the number of cases dates back to 2001, and is more than initially thought. 

Trucilla said the court is sealing the cases to protect the people involved.

Erie County District Court 06-2-04 was overseen by former district judge Brenda Williams-Nichols. According to the audit and subsequent investigation, Williams-Nichols improperly filed criminal charges for theft of services. They should have been classified as civil complaints, according to DePasquale.

The problem came to light in the fall when a person complained that a potential employer found a criminal record during a background check. Further examination revealed the former district judge Williams-Nichols improperly handled the civil complaint.

The people affected may not know they have a criminal record that could show up in background checks for employment and volunteer service.