Former Luzerne County Judge Mark A Ciavarella Jr To Remain In Prison For 28 Years.
Ciavarella, 67, was convicted of 12 of 39 charges for accepting kickbacks in exchange for funneling juvenile defendants to detention centers built by wealthy developer Robert K. Mericle’s construction firm and operated by companies controlled by former local attorney Robert Powell.
Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., whose hard-nosed zero-tolerance policy as a Luzerne County Juvenile Court judge fueled a kids-for-cash conspiracy that generated millions in kickbacks from a for-profit detention center, is now on the other side of the bench. Ciavarella has drawn more media attention and public vilification.
The Court of Appeals found that one count of the Indictment should be dismissed because the statute of limitation had run on the offense.
Ciavarella and his co-defendant, Michael Conahan, who also served as President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, were initially charged in January 2009. The charges were the result of a federal investigation of alleged corruption in the Luzerne County court system. The inquiry began in 2007 and expanded to include county government offices, state legislators, school districts and contractors in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Conahan pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in April 2010 and is serving a 17 year sentence.
The government also sought the forfeiture of approximately $2.8 million in assets allegedly acquired by the defendants through racketeering and money laundering. In response to the United States Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in United States v. Skilling, the 2010 Indictment specifically charged that bribes and kickbacks were paid to the defendants.
The jury also found that Ciavarella should forfeit $997,600, the sum he received from Robert Mericle, the developer who built the juvenile detention facilities.
Federal Court in Ciavarella “Kids For Cash” Case Issues Groundbreaking Ruling: State Court Judge’s Acts Not Immune from Conspiracy and RICO
The more prisoners equated to more profits for the owners of the prison.
As a result, Ciavarella would sentence offenders with small offenses to months and, at times, years behind bars. He once sentenced a teen to three months in jail for creating a MySpace page that mocked her school’s assistant principal. Ciavarella also sentenced another teen to 90 days in jail after a simple schoolyard fight. rollingout.com
Judgments determining custody battles, care orders and whether children should be rehomed will in future be published unless there are “compelling reasons” not to.
In all cases where a judge authorises publication of a judgment, public authorities and expert witnesses “should be named in the judgment as published unless there are compelling reasons not to” and anonymity should not extend beyond protecting the privacy of the families involved, unless there are good reasons not to.