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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Jury Finds Corrupt Kids-For-Cash Judge Guilty

Pa. juvenile court judge guilty of racketeering in kickback case
The Associated Press - February 19, 2011

SCRANTON, PA — A former juvenile court judge defiantly insisted he never accepted money for sending large numbers of children to detention centers even after he was convicted of racketeering for taking a $1 million kickback from the builder of the for-profit lockups. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella was allowed to remain free pending sentencing following his conviction Friday in what prosecutors said was a "kids for cash" scheme that ranks among the biggest courtroom frauds in U.S. history. Ciavarella, 61, left the bench in disgrace two years ago after he and a second judge, Michael Conahan, were accused of using juvenile delinquents as pawns in a plot to get rich. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has dismissed 4,000 juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying he sentenced young offenders without regard for their constitutional rights. Ciavarella maintained the payments were legal and denied that he incarcerated youths for money. "Never took a dime to send a kid anywhere. ... Never happened. Never, ever happened. This case was about extortions and kickbacks, not about ’kids for cash,’" said Ciavarella, who plans to appeal. Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and Conahan of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities’ co-owner.

A federal jury in Scranton convicted Ciavarella of 12 counts, including racketeering, money laundering and conspiracy, but acquitted him of 27 counts, including extortion. He is likely to get a prison sentence of more than 12 years, according to prosecutors — who revealed after the verdicts that a reputed mob boss turned informant helped them make their case. Parents of juveniles who appeared before Ciavarella were outraged that he was released after the verdicts. Ciavarella often ordered youths he had found delinquent to be immediately shackled, handcuffed and taken away without giving them a chance to say goodbye to their families. Some of the children he ordered locked up were as young as 10. Sandy Fonzo, whose son was jailed by Ciavarella — and committed suicide last year at age 23 — screamed obscenities at the judge and even poked him as he and his attorneys held a news conference on the courthouse steps. "My kid’s not here anymore!" yelled Fonzo. "He’s dead! Because of him! He ruined my ... life! I’d like him to go to hell and rot there forever!" Ciavarella glanced at Fonzo, then turned his back.

Fonzo’s son, Edward Kenzakowski, was a 17-year-old all-star wrestler with no prior record when he landed in Ciavarella’s courtroom for possession of drug paraphernalia. She said her son never recovered from the months he served at the detention centers and a wilderness camp. Tears streaming down her face, Fonzo said she couldn’t believe Ciavarella was allowed to walk out of the courthouse. "There’s no justice, there’s not. He’s never going to get what he deserves," she said. "I just wanted to see him handcuffed and taken out. But when I saw him just being released with that stupid smirk on his face ..." The jury found Ciavarella guilty of taking a $997,600 kickback from Robert Mericle, the builder of the juvenile facilities — money he was ordered to forfeit to the federal government after the verdicts were announced. He was also convicted of failing to report the payments on his state-mandated financial disclosure forms and failing to pay taxes on the income. Jurors acquitted him of extorting Robert Powell, the facilities’ developer and co-owner. The defense declared victory. "We’re amazed. The jury rejected 95 percent of the government’s case," said attorney Al Flora. "I find it interesting," U.S. Attorney Peter Smith said in response, "that a man just convicted of racketeering is claiming any sort of a victory out there today. I wonder what he would consider a defeat." Prosecutors alleged that Conahan, who pleaded guilty to racketeering last year, and Ciavarella plotted to shut down the dilapidated county-run juvenile detention center in 2002 and arrange for the construction of the PA Child Care facility outside Wilkes-Barre.

Ciavarella, who presided over juvenile court, sent youths to the center and later to its sister facility in western Pennsylvania while he was taking payments from Mericle, a prominent builder and close friend of Ciavarella, and Powell, a high-powered attorney. Luzerne County paid Powell’s company more than $30 million between 2003 and 2007 to house juveniles at PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care. The county could have built its own juvenile center for about $9 million, according to testimony. In dismissing thousands of Ciavarella’s convictions, the state high court said he ran his courtroom with "complete disregard for the constitutional rights of the juveniles," including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Hundreds of youths and their families are suing Ciavarella and Conahan in federal court, but Smith said the judges’ handling of juvenile cases did not figure into the federal prosecution for legal and evidentiary reasons. "We’re very sympathetic to the pain to the community that was caused here ... and we’re fully aware of the deep anguish that many parents and many juveniles feel. But the federal criminal courts are not the appropriate venue to resolve that issue fully," he said. Ciavarella, who took the stand in his own defense, acknowledged to jurors that he failed to report the payments on his tax returns and hid them from the public, but he denied any plot to take kickbacks or extort money. Ciavarella told jurors that he thought he was legally entitled to Mericle’s money, calling it a "finder’s fee" for introducing Mericle to Powell. Ciavarella also denied that he extorted Powell, who had testified for the prosecution that he was forced to pay the judges nearly $600,000 after they agreed to send juvenile delinquents to his new lockup. The payments were disguised as rent on a Florida condominium owned by the judges’ wives. It was Conahan who made the arrangements with Powell, Ciavarella insisted. He said Conahan told him that Powell had agreed to pay them $15,000 a month for 60 months to lease the waterfront Florida property. Prosecutors scoffed at that explanation, questioning why Powell would pay nearly $1 million in rent on a condo he could have purchased outright for less than $800,000.

Officials disclosed for the first time Friday that they were led to the judges by the reputed boss of a northeastern Pennsylvania Mafia family. William D’Elia — who regularly met for breakfast with Conahan — became a government informant after his 2006 arrest on charges of witness tampering and conspiracy to launder drug money. "D’Elia led us to Judge Conahan," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod. "From there we began to focus on them, the financial dealings between Judge Conahan, Judge Ciavarella, Mericle, Powell." D’Elia won a sentence reduction last year based on his cooperation in another criminal case and could be released as early as next year. Ciavarella and Conahan initially pleaded guilty in February 2009 to honest services fraud and tax evasion in a deal that called for a sentence of more than seven years in prison. But their plea deals were rejected by Senior U.S. District Judge Edward M. Kosik, who ruled they had failed to accept responsibility for their actions. A federal grand jury in Harrisburg subsequently indicted the judges on charges of racketeering, fraud, money laundering, bribery, extortion and tax offenses. Conahan pleaded guilty to a single racketeering charge last year and awaits sentencing. Mericle and Powell pleaded guilty to lesser offenses and testified against Ciavarella; both await sentencing. Ciavarella faces a maximum of 157 years in prison at sentencing, but will more likely receive 12½ years to about 15½ years under federal sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said. PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care remain open and continue to accept juveniles from many Pennsylvania counties, though Luzerne County no longer sends delinquents to them.


victim of judicial injustice said...

I have tremendous respect for our honest judges. A corrupt judge like this kids for cash guy should not have been allowed out pending sentencing. He's going to kill himself and take the easy way out. He belongs behind bars. Enough is enough. 4000 cases had to be overturned because of this animal. THROW HIM IN JAIL NOW before he kills himself.

sick said...

Wow. Throw him in prison and throw away the key.
I'm sick over this judge's behavior.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Judge. A $900,000.00 "finders fee"
Selling children for cash?!?!

Go to hell, you bastard!

Anonymous said...

*********PA SCUMBAGS UNITE***********
Sent the news video clip to me sister that went BS believe this stuff just not take place. Went nuts. Bunch of angry Westchester nurses out there now (and NOT PA) so watch your ass in the ER.

Anonymous said...

Just dial:
and leave of the 'h' just for the
'h'ell of it too.

Anonymous said...

How did they address all the decisions this judge made?

The US Supreme Court has said that all decisions made by judges are valid, and I believe they have even addressed corrupt judges as saying that even those decisions hold.

Was this judge given judicial immunity?

Does anyone know? Or, is it still too early for this to have been addressed?

Anonymous said...

Judge Mark Ciavarella should have placed his fat corrupt ass in one of New York's courts: state of federal. He'd be right at home, right Judge Lippman? Right 'judge' Pfau? tick, tick, tick. Justice just might make its way from PA to NY soon.

Anonymous said...

Hey Judge Ciavarella. You should be quite proud of yourself. And you've made your family quite proud also, I'm sure. Rot in jail, arshole!

Anonymous said...

Did they have riots in Luzerne County PA?

Anonymous said...

Wow..he should go straight to jail..period!! He's a very sick man!!!!!!

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.

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