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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Casual Culture of Corruption in 'Kids-For-Cash" Scandal

  • Jury Finds One Judge Guilty While Another Jurist Pled Guilty
  • A bigger picture emerged of a staggeringly casual culture of corruption
  • Judges allowed to run shell corporations, secretly accept cash from wealthy friends
  • Judges shared investments with lawyers who regularly appeared in their courtrooms
  • Convicted Judge failed to fully inform juveniles of their right to counsel
  • Judge had his Florida condominium rent paid in effort to disguise bribery and extortion
  • Two Corrupt Judges paid $2.8 million from 2003-06.

Ciavarella case focused on money trail, avoided juveniles' stories
The Citizens Voice by Dave Janoski - February 20, 2011

A trial is a pursuit of truth, but no trial reveals the whole truth. Prosecutors in the trial of Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. chose to focus on a narrow band of evidence in the wider spectrum of the kids-for-cash case. They relied on financial documents and cooperating witnesses to convict the former Luzerne County Juvenile Court judge of racketeering, frustrating former defendants in his court who felt their stories went ignored. Ciavarella's co-conspirator, former Judge Michael T. Conahan, loomed over the trial like a manipulative ghost, but never appeared on the witness stand. At times, tantalizing threads poked through the uniform fabric of the government's case - suggestions of a long-rumored probe into case fixing, references to developer Robert K. Mericle's payments to other powerful politicians and hints that prosecutors could reveal more about the murky maneuvering behind the county's signing of a $58 million lease for the juvenile detention center that Mericle built. Prosecutors, in their single-minded determination to avoid further complicating an already complex case, never followed those threads.

But a bigger picture still emerged of a staggeringly casual culture of corruption at the Luzerne County Courthouse that allowed judges to run shell corporations, secretly accept cash from wealthy friends and share investments with lawyers who regularly appeared in their courtrooms. In media interviews following a verdict that will likely send Ciavarella to prison for a dozen or more years, jurors expressed little trust in the veracity of any of the principals in the case, including prosecution witnesses Mericle and detention center owner Robert J. Powell, who testified they paid Ciavarella and Conahan $2.8 million from 2003-06. The jury unequivocally rejected Powell's testimony that the judges relentlessly solicited kickbacks for sending juveniles to his centers, finding Ciavarella not guilty of all the extortion and bribery counts tied to Powell's payments. One juror noted the panel was left wanting more information about the role of Conahan, who seemed the main villain in the case.

According to defense and prosecution testimony, it was Conahan who closed a county-owned detention center and signed a secret agreement to send juveniles to Powell's for-profit jail. It was Conahan who made the arrangements for the wire transfers that led to Ciavarella's conviction for racketeering. It was Conahan who negotiated the rental fees Powell paid for a Florida condominium owned by the judges in what prosecutors alleged was an effort to disguise bribery and extortion. Prosecutors declined to say why they did not call Conahan, who has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and faces up to 20 years in prison. While Conahan's plea agreement does not require him to cooperate with the government, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod said in a pre-trial meeting in August that Conahan was willing to testify, if only to confirm the facts of the case he acknowledged during his plea hearing. Conahan's absence allowed Ciavarella and his defense team to place the onus for the most damaging allegations on Conahan and to claim he had a "backroom deal" with Powell that excluded Ciavarella. Conahan was heard in court, if only in the form of a secretly recorded July 2009 conversation in which he laid out for Powell and Ciavarella a possible defense against a looming criminal case being assembled by federal agents. It was the exact defense Ciavarella's lawyers employed in U.S. District Court over the past two weeks: The only payments Ciavarella received connected to the detention center came from Mericle and they were legal. Ciavarella knew Powell was paying rent on the Florida condo, but the terms were negotiated by Conahan. Ciavarella knew nothing of other cash payments from Powell to Conahan. As the prosecution case neared its close, it became clear that the most attention-grabbing aspect of the case - allegations that Ciavarella summarily detained undeserving juveniles to keep the beds at Powell's centers full - would not play a large role in the trial.

U.S. Attorney Peter J. Smith said the government did not need to introduce that evidence to make its case, which centered on financial transactions. The state court system has already dealt with Ciavarella's courtroom conduct, specifically his failure to fully inform juveniles of their right to counsel, by vacating all of his juvenile court rulings since 2005. Still, the prosecution decision evoked outrage from some former juvenile defendants and their parents, hundreds of whom are pursuing civil-rights claims against the former judge. "I don't understand why they're not looking at the transcripts of these children's so-called hearings," said one of those parents, Laurene Transue. "Why aren't they talking to the parents? Why aren't they saying, 'What happened in court? What happened when you tried to speak?' " "Why isn't that being told? Because, that's part of it," Transue said. "If former Judge Ciavarella conducted fair hearings for these juveniles, I can't imagine that a fraction of them that were sent away would have been sent away. Obviously there was some motive to sending these kids away to these facilities." The prosecution decision not to pursue that line of evidence kept the jury from being distracted, but it also closed off an avenue the defense could have pursued to attack the prosecution's case. Many of the juveniles who appeared before Ciavarella admitted to the charges against them. Many might have benefitted from the treatment he ordered. Furthermore, many of the former juvenile defendants suing Ciavarella were placed in centers other than the ones owned by Powell. Ciavarella, 60, has long maintained his judicial decisions were solely in the interest of the juveniles who appeared before him and society at large. A trial that focused on the highly problematic question of whether the juveniles sentenced by Ciavarella deserved their punishment and/or benefitted from it could have easily turned in Ciavarella's favor. In the end, the prosecution said it was highly satisfied with a verdict that found Ciavarella guilty of just 12 of 39 counts. The jury appeared to find Ciavarella guilty only of the payments that could be definitively tied to him without a reasonable doubt, Zubrod said. "It was not a conclusion that a bribery or extortion did not occur. They were bending over backwards to be fair to the defendant and to make sure they could trace the money before they nailed him," Zubrod said. "I think that's really what went on. It's not that he was innocent, but that the burden of proof had not been met." DJANOSKI@CITIZENSVOICE.COM


The Devil Awaits the Judge in Hell said...

Obviously this judge was never moved by any conflict of interest that couldn't be resolved by a stack of 100's. Sure, Judge, the cash in your dirty hands NEVER affected your judicial decisions to get as many kids in a locked facility as possible.

wondering said...

How did this animal judge sleep at night?

Anonymous said...

This judge slept at night just like the numerous judicial scum of New York sleep at night, snug and warm believing that the media,the lawyers and other judges would cover for them. The same evil of corruption festers even deeper within New York State, where the Chief Judge is a notorious crook, whose blatant misdeeds are covered up by a butt-kissing media.
Find one judge prosecuted by our now governor when he was AG. Cuomo defended the crooked judges in federal and State Court cases, even though his duty was to the People, not his crooked fellow lawyers and judges.

Anonymous said...

This is almost as unbelievable as the judge getting caught.

The prosecutor knows that the entire place is corrupt, but that's OK as long as they get one of them?

Hasn't the FBI spent the last 20 years attempting to dismantle the Mafia by going after each and everyone of them? Why is this different? This guy got away with this because they all were dirty.

That's why NY is in the mess that it is. They all know that the chance of anyone of them getting caught is slight and even if someone is sacrificed, they know that that's the end of it.

Who do these guys work for?

Oh, that's right.

For themselves and their friends.

Anonymous said...

Amusing isn't it? They're are stealing themselves into oblivion.. while the Masters watch and devalue all that they steal...

A Dumber species, there probably isn't...

Anonymous said...

I suppose they need a body or piece of property to attach themselves to...

Kids, Houses, Veterans, Pensions, Families, all necessary anchors for greed..

Oh yeah.. and a willing accomplice/enabler ..

lest we forget them...

TheEye said...

is blinking...

Anonymous said...

Isn't this what NY Judges do?

"Recently, his father Rep. Ed Towns was being investigated for taking a preferential mortgage from the CEO of Countrywide Angelo Mozilo, and now his son is the head of the NY State Mortgage agency!"

Anonymous said...

and Just another coincidence..

LOS ANGELES — Federal prosecutors have ended a criminal investigation of Countrywide Financial Corp. co-founder Angelo Mozilo, a person close to the investigation said Friday.

The federal official told The Associated Press that the probe launched in 2008 into the actions of the former chief executive of the housing giant during the mortgage meltdown has been closed with no indictments. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was never publicly announced, and the Department of Justice as a policy does not announce the closing of investigations.

In October, Mozilo agreed to a $67.5 million settlement to avoid civil trial on fraud and insider trading charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but prosecutors pursuing the criminal case against him found that his actions did not amount to crimes.
The SEC’s charges alleged that the 72-year-old Mozilo and two other former Countrywide executives who also settled profited from doling out risky mortgages while misleading investors about the dangers.

Anonymous said...

It's a delicate balance..

Illicitedly funding operations and pretending to care.. LOL

Anonymous said...

Take all their money including any pensions and give it all to the kids that they screwed. Then lock them up and make examples of them. I hear this is going on all over the country and these Judges and lawyers are getting rich from it.

Anonymous said...

Kids for Cash, Houses for Cash, People for Cash...

It's all about the soon to be worthless CASH!!!

and when the Cash is Worthless, they'll be looking for Gold..

and when they can't eat the Gold..

they'll be looking for food...

Mother Nature's revenge...

Earthquakes, Famine, Tidal Waves, Volcanic Eruptions..

Keep it up.. and maybe there won't be any...

Anonymous said...

Recruiting new children into the Global Child Sex Trafficking/Pornography Industry, worth trillions of dollars worldwide, works this way in the United States (especially in the corrupt New York City Family Courts):

A Prostitute, usually coming from this same industry, entraps and has a child with a wealthy but naive father who she then divorces and makes him pay a fortune in mandatory Child Support, about 21% of his income a year for 21 years.

All the while, she provokes and instigates him repeatedly until he reacts and she can then obtain Orders of Protection against him, so he can never even see his own kids, but still pays a fortune in support.

Usually some type of Domestic Violence Women's group will represent that con-artist woman/prostitute for free, said group routinely staffed with Pedophiles and Sexual Deviants who also support and actively partake in the Global Child Sex Trafficking Industry. Some of these "agencies" even are so bold as to have a "wing" of their organization devoted to "stopping or preventing child sex trafficking." (The Lady Doth Protest Too Much - William Shakespeare) to further obfuscate and cover their tracks and true intentions.

This is all the while the poor SOB Father has to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for lawyers who always lose, owing to the above, and the following:

The Family Court Judges in New York City and the Law Guardian chosen in these child custody cases (and the Court Appointed Forensic Psychologists) are also Perverts, Pedophiles, and they support and participate in the Global Child Sex Trafficking/Pornography Industry, and may even be willing and active participants.

The Family Court Judge and Law Guardian are literally hand picked by the "Domestic Violence Women's Lobbying Group" to ensure that those kids never ever see their Fathers (who can protect them) again, by repeatedly and consistently disallowing those Fathers to see their children, with less and less time, until finally the Father's Parental Rights are terminated for good, leaving those poor defenseless children in the sole custody of that vile, drug addicted, alcoholic, violent, deranged, descendent of the child porn industry prostitute mother, who now, free to do so without any prevention by the estranged and removed Biological Father - SURPRISE! sells those kids off to the highest bidder in the Global Child Sex Trafficking/Pornography Industry, again, worth trillions of dollars a year.

And then the cycle repeats itself a generation later with those "sold off children" doing it to their own kids, their souls having been lost forever.

Meanwhile the FBI, ICE, DHS, and other Federal and State Law Enforcement Agencies do absolutely nothing (many of them may be pedophiles, partaking of this child sex industry as well).

These "law enforcement agencies" will tell you "it's not in their Mandate" or "there's nothing we can do," and will tell you to refer it to the Administration for Childrens Services ("ACS") which is equally if not more corrupt, also staffed with incompetents and corrupt caseworkers, and at the higher levels perverts and pedophiles, and also just as beholden and owned by the Global Child Sex Trafficking/Pornography Industry as the specially selected Family Court Judges and Law Guardians.

All ACS ever does is sweep legitimate allegations and complaints about the above under the rug, while attacking and vilifying the Complainant.

In other words, there is a Grand Conspiracy of Global Child Sex Trafficking, completely fool proof and airtight, and no one can (or will) do a goddamned thing about it.

If you try and complain about it, or try and launch an investigation into it, both you and your world will be crushed by the awesome money, power, political connections, lobbying groups, and "professionals" in charge of maintaining and preserving this "industry."

Count on it.

Pat said...

Surprised not to see the accomplices of Ciaverella also jailed in the Judicial Corruption case.

Funds don't flow by themselves, and those they take it make it possible for those who steal it by using the kids as pawns.

How could the Judge alone be guilty?

When the opportunity doesn't arise because of legal and judicial honesty, America can admire itself for curing the problem of corruption, and breaking through the Code of Omerta that keeps it safe from prosecution.

Pat said...

Surprised not to see the accomplices of Ciaverella also jailed in the Judicial Corruption case.

Funds don't flow by themselves, and those they take it make it possible for those who steal it by using the kids as pawns.

How could the Judge alone be guilty?

When the opportunity doesn't arise because of legal and judicial honesty, America can admire itself for curing the problem of corruption, and breaking through the Code of Omerta that keeps it safe from prosecution.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
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