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Old 02-13-2009, 11:05 AM   #1
Wagon Of Fury
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Default Two PA judges plead guilty in scheme to jail youths for profit

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us..._r=1&th&emc=th

1. Shut down municipal juvenile detention center
2. Make back-room deal with privately-held for-profit detention center
3. Send lots of kids there regardless of severity of crime
4. Get kickbacks from Center
5. $$ Profit $$

Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
By IAN URBINA and SEAN D. HAMILL

At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.

Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment. She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.

“I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare,” said Hillary, 17, who was sentenced in 2007. “All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”

The answers became a bit clearer on Thursday as the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.

“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of anything remotely approaching this,” said Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, who was appointed by the State Supreme Court this week to determine what should be done with the estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003. Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention. The case has shocked Luzerne County, an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that has been battered by a loss of industrial jobs and the closing of most of its anthracite coal mines.

And it raised concerns about whether juveniles should be required to have counsel either before or during their appearances in court and whether juvenile courts should be open to the public or child advocates. If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar. They are expected to be sentenced in the next several months. Lawyers for both men declined to comment.

Since state law forbids retirement benefits to judges convicted of a felony while in office, the judges would also lose their pensions.

With Judge Conahan serving as president judge in control of the budget and Judge Ciavarella overseeing the juvenile courts, they set the kickback scheme in motion in December 2002, the authorities said. They shut down the county-run juvenile detention center, arguing that it was in poor condition, the authorities said, and maintained that the county had no choice but to send detained juveniles to the newly built private detention centers.

Prosecutors say the judges tried to conceal the kickbacks as payments to a company they control in Florida. Though he pleaded guilty to the charges Thursday, Judge Ciavarella has denied sentencing juveniles who did not deserve it or sending them to the detention centers in a quid pro quo with the centers. But Assistant United States Attorney Gordon A. Zubrod said after the hearing that the government continues to charge a quid pro quo.
“We’re not negotiating that, no,” Mr. Zubrod said. “We’re not backing off.”

No charges have been filed against executives of the detention centers. Prosecutors said the investigation into the case was continuing. For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Judge Ciavarella was unusually harsh. He sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a state rate of 1 in 10. He also routinely ignored requests for leniency made by prosecutors and probation officers. “The juvenile system, by design, is intended to be a less punitive system than the adult system, and yet here were scores of children with very minor infractions having their lives ruined,” said Marsha Levick, a lawyer with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center.

“There was a culture of intimidation surrounding this judge and no one was willing to speak up about the sentences he was handing down.” Last year, the Juvenile Law Center, which had raised concerns about Judge Ciavarella in the past, filed a motion to the State Supreme Court about more than 500 juveniles who had appeared before the judge without representation. The court originally rejected the petition, but recently reversed that decision.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that children have a constitutional right to counsel. But in Pennsylvania, as in at least 20 other states, children can waive counsel, and about half of the children that Judge Ciavarella sentenced had chosen to do so. Only Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina require juveniles to have representation when they appear before judges.

Clay Yeager, the former director of the Office of Juvenile Justice in Pennsylvania, said typical juvenile proceedings are kept closed to the public to protect the privacy of children. “But they are kept open to probation officers, district attorneys, and public defenders, all of whom are sworn to protect the interests of children,” he said. “It’s pretty clear those people didn’t do their jobs.”

On Thursday in Federal District Court in Scranton, more than 80 people packed every available seat in the courtroom. At one point, as Assistant United States Attorney William S. Houser explained to Judge Edwin M. Kosik that the government was willing to reach a plea agreement with the men because the case involved “complex charges that could have resulted in years of litigation,” one man sitting in the audience said “bull” loud enough to be heard in the courtroom.

One of the parents at the hearing was Susan Mishanski of Hanover Township. Her son, Kevin, now 18, was sentenced to 90 days in a detention facility last year in a simple assault case that everyone had told her would result in probation, since Kevin had never been in trouble and the boy he hit had only a black eye. “It’s horrible to have your child taken away in shackles right in front of you when you think you’re going home with him,” she said. “It was nice to see them sitting on the other side of the bench.”
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:06 AM   #2
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The corruption in this country by our elected and public officials is getting to be too much...
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:09 AM   #3
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The corruption in this country by our elected and public officials is getting to be too much...
so you're saying its time to run for Mayor?
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:12 AM   #4
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so you're saying its time to run for Mayor?
I could use a good Secretary of Beer...
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:13 AM   #5
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w00t!
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:16 AM   #6
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Christ this is scary.
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:21 AM   #7
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Whats next! Power companies paying judges to sentence more people to the chair! zomg!
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:28 AM   #8
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Jesus Christ, this is now national news? This has been the huge local story here for the last few weeks. One of those judges, I think Ciavarella, is my wife's distant cousin.

Please keep in mind, I live in Scranton, PA in Lackawanna County. This took place in Wilkes-Barre, PA in Luzerne County. The federal court is in Scranton. Even though Scranton and Lackawanna County has their share of corruption, it isn't even remotely close to the corruption in W-B and Luzerne County. Luzerne County may be one of the most corrupt counties in the US.
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:33 AM   #9
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Whats next! Power companies paying judges to sentence more people to the chair! zomg!
Well, actually the electric chair was invented as an attempt to prove that AC current was more dangerous than DC.

Thomas Edison was trying to promote DC, and wanted to discredit Westinghouse (the people who were promoting AC). So, he (or one of his employees) would electrocute animals using AC. Eventually they invented the electric chair and used it to execute a condemned criminal.
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:37 AM   #10
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Someone should make an example out of that guy. I think torture is appropriate in some cases, and I think he deserves it.
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:48 AM   #11
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The for-profit prison industry is morally reprehensible.
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:57 AM   #12
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'What is a YOOT?'
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:11 PM   #13
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http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44105072...rts/?gt1=43001

28 years in prison. At his age, that's a life sentence. Hope some of those kid's dads are in there with you buddy, I'm sure they have things they would like to discuss.
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Old 08-11-2011, 04:42 PM   #14
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There's nothing like a Scranton party of the first part.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:11 PM   #15
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So if this is going on in PA, which seems normally quiet and not totally derp, what else is going on around the country?
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:17 PM   #16
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What. The ****.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by djpast View Post
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44105072...rts/?gt1=43001

28 years in prison. At his age, that's a life sentence. Hope some of those kid's dads are in there with you buddy, I'm sure they have things they would like to discuss.
This story is local for me.

The local channels are going crazy with this again and people are as happy as can be around here...



http://www.timesleader.com/news/US-A...-history-.html




Quote:
SCRANTON - The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Scranton issued a news release late Thursday morning stating the investigation into kickbacks by former Luzerne County president judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan was the largest and most sustained political corruption inquiry in the history of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Ciavarella was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison earlier today. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $965,930 to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for his judicial salary and $207,861 in restitution related to tax charges.

Ciavarella voluntarily surrendered after he was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik III.
The news release outlined the history of the federal investigation:

Ciavarella and Conahan 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 over the next four years expanded to include county government offices, state legislators, school directors and contractors in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The case was investigated by agents of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations and Federal Bureau of Investigations based in Scranton. To date, more than 30 local or state government officials and contractors have been convicted or are awaiting trial.
The judicial scandal, described as the worst in Pennsylvania’s history, and the federal prosecutions have had major consequences:
Ciavarella and Conahan resigned from the county judicial bench in January 2009. Reform and housecleaning are underway in the county court system.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania was compelled to vacate thousands of juvenile convictions in Luzerne County as a result of Ciavarella’s conduct as a juvenile court judge.
A state Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice was established to study what happened and to recommend changes in the state’s justice system aimed at safeguarding the constitutional rights of juveniles and improving the oversight and disciplinary process for judges in Pennsylvania.
In June 2011, a committee for the American Bar Association reviewed and made recommendations to improve procedures in the state’s Judicial Conduct Board.

A procedure was established in Luzerne County for compensation of victims of the activities of Ciavarella and Conahan.
In the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the prosecution was conducted by a team consisting of Senior Litigation Counsel Gordon A.D. Zubrod, Assistant U.S. Attorneys William S. Houser, Michael A. Consiglio, and Amy Phillips and Criminal Division Chief Christian A. Fisanick.
The federal investigation, the largest and the most sustained political corruption inquiry in the history of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, was initiated under the direction of former U.S. Attorney Martin C. Carlson, now a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Middle District, and continued under Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, who succeeded Carlson as court-appointed U.S. Attorney in 2009, and Peter J. Smith, the current U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania..

Ciavarella and Conahan were originally charged with honest services mail and wire fraud and tax fraud in connection with the use of privately owned juvenile detention facilities. The former judges agreed to plead guilty to the charges.
In July 2009, Kosik rejected the proposed plea agreements because Ciavarella and Conahan did not appear to accept responsibility for their conduct.

In September 2009 and September 2010, a federal grand jury in Harrisburg returned superseding indictments charging Ciavarella and Conahan with racketeering, honest services mail fraud, money laundering, extortion, bribery, tax violations and conspiracy.
The government also sought the forfeiture of approximately $2.8 million in assets allegedly acquired by Ciavarella and Conahan through racketeering and money laundering.
In response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2010, the 2010 indictment specifically charged that bribes and kickbacks were paid to Ciavarella and Conahan.

Conahan pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in April 2010. He did not testify at Ciavarella’s trial and has not been sentenced.
After an 11 day trial in Scranton in February, a jury found Ciavarella guilty on 12 of 39 counts: racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, four counts of honest services mail fraud and four counts of filing false income tax return. The jury also found Ciavarella should forfeit $997,600, the sum he received from Robert Mericle, the developer who built the juvenile detention facilities.

Ciavarella testified at trial, claiming the payments he received from Mericle were “finders fees” or “honest money” with no connection to Ciavarella’s actions as a judge, and denied that he received payment from Robert Powell, owner of the juvenile detention facilities.
The evidence established that Conahan closed the Luzerne County Juvenile Detention Facility when he was president judge and helped arrange the financing for the private facilities; that Ciavarella, as juvenile court judge, sent juveniles to those facilities; that both men obstructed efforts to question the county’s use of the facilities and their financial relationships with Mericle and Powell; and both judges used bank accounts, straw parties and real estate vacation property to hide and launder payments received from Mericle and Powell.
The evidence further showed that Ciavarella failed to report receipt of the funds on annual financial interest statements he was required to file as a judge and failed to report the income on his federal income tax returns.
Mericle and Powell have pleaded guilty pursuant to plea agreements and are awaiting sentencing.


Oh, and the video of the lady freaking out on them.

NWS- F Bomb!

http://youtu.be/QCExlbGTX_M

Last edited by thewerxracing; 08-11-2011 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:20 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by edkwon View Post
'Hhhhhwhat is a YOOT?'
Fixed.

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Originally Posted by TarmacRally View Post
So if this is going on in PA, which seems normally quiet and not totally derp, what else is going on around the country?
Know how I know you've never been to Wilkes-Barre?
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:21 PM   #19
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Know how I know you've never been to Wilkes-Barre?

Oh yeah, NEPA is filled to the brim with corruption.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:27 PM   #20
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How do you even get sent to court for a Myspace page?
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:37 PM   #21
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That is WAAAAAY beyond ****ed.
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Old 08-11-2011, 05:39 PM   #22
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How do you even get sent to court for a Myspace page?
Seems like a free speech issue. She clearly marked that she was joking. The makes it a parody of the vice principal. Unless it was some kind of death threat or something, when did making fun of your school administration become a crime? At worst it would warrant detention.
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:40 PM   #23
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hope this guy doesnt get off the hook with appeals or some nonsense. hopefully this will have some people thinking a little more positive in nepa, its such a negative area!
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:41 PM   #24
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So if this is going on in PA, which seems normally quiet and not totally derp, what else is going on around the country?
People looking the other way.
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Old 08-11-2011, 06:58 PM   #25
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"The media attention to this matter has exceeded coverage given to many and almost all capital murders, and despite protestation, he will forever be unjustly branded as the 'Kids for Cash' judge," their sentencing memo said.
**** them...seriously, I have no sympathy for these ****s.
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