If you can’t trust a judge to be fair and square? … and honest — who can you trust? -
Certainly not ex-Luzerne County (PA) juvenile court Judge Mark Ciavarella, 61 (right).
Another former judge, Michael Conahan, was also involved.
Ciavarella has been sentenced on Thursday to 28 years in prison for accepting payment to send kids s to a for-profit detention unit in a scandal dubbed “kids for cash,” says Reuters, going on, “Under the ” scheme, thousands of juveniles were shipped to the private center on minor or questionable charges by Ciavarella.
Another former judge, Michael Conahan, was also involved, according to juvenile advocates,says esays Reuters.
“Ciavarella abused his position of trust and inflicted a deep and lasting wound on the community he vowed to service,” US Attorney Peter Smith .
“The scheme involved a corrupt agreement with the operators of the for-profit juvenile facilities,” Smith said. “It was a wholesale arrangement in which the judges concealed their interest and thereby did great damage to the public.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office called the case the “largest and most sustained political corruption inquiry” in the area.
Ciavarella was convicted in February of 12 charges, including racketeering conspiracy and money laundering,” says the story, adding,.
“During the trial, Ciavarella testified that the money he received from Robert Mericle (bottom right), the facility’s developer, amounted to “finder fees” and had no connection to the fact that he was a sentencing judge.
Al Flora, Ciavarella’s attorney, said he would appeal.
Conahan, formerly the president judge of the Luzerne County court, has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and is awaiting sentencing.
Prosecutors said Conahan closed the publicly owned Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Facility and helped arrange financing for the private facility.
Both former judges obstructed efforts to investigate the county’s use of the private facility and also their financial relationships with Mericle and Robert Powell, the owner of the juvenile center, prosecutors said.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said more than 30 local and state government officials and contractors have been convicted or are awaiting trial in the case.
The story doesn’t say what will happen to the kids.
“The United States Department of Justice has announced that real estate mogul Robert Mericle has agreed to plead guilty in connection to the corruption at the Luzerne County courthouse, says the PA homepage ,The 46-year-old is president and CEO of Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services adding,
“According to the paperwork, Mericle knew about the ‘ cash for kids’ scheme involving judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciaveralla.
Authorities say the two judges received more than 2 million dollars in connection to the construction of juvenile detention centers. We’re told Mericle knew about the crime and didn’t reveal it to investigators.