2 Pa. judges sued in kickback scheme
ALLENTOWN, Pa. A lawsuit has been filed against two Pennsylvania judges accused of taking more than $2 million in kickbacks to send youth offenders to privately run detention centers.
The suit names Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan and 14 other defendants. It was filed in federal court late Thursday on behalf of hundreds of children and their families who were alleged victims of the corruption.
"At the hands of two grossly corrupt judges and several conspirators, hundreds of Pennsylvania children, their families and loved ones, were victimized and their civil rights violated," plaintiffs' attorney Michael Cefalo said in a statement Friday.
Prosecutors allege Ciavarella and Conahan took $2.6 million in payoffs to put juvenile offenders in lockups run by PA Child Care LLC and a sister company, possibly tainting the convictions of thousands of juvenile offenders.
The judges pleaded guilty to fraud in federal court in Scranton on Thursday. Their plea agreements call for sentences of more than seven years in prison.
The lead plaintiff is Florence Wallace, whose 14-year-old daughter Bernadine was charged with terroristic threats after getting into an argument on MySpace. The lawsuit said the teenager was not advised of her right to an attorney and was pressured to plead guilty. She was taken from Ciavarella's courtroom in shackles and spent time in PA Child Care and at a youth wilderness camp.
As a result of the judges' corruption, parents were forced to pay for the "wrongful incarceration" of their children, the suit said. Some parents had their wages garnished, public assistance benefits taken and social security benefits seized.
Seven years, eh? The number of lives these shit hole judges & their cohorts ruined doesn't seem to count for much (just like with crooked legislators, financiers, & the entire Cheney adminstration.). Kids needing counseling & maybe some tough love. Some who may have required no more than a warning. Perhaps others innocent altogether. Most no doubt from the struggling Eastern PA underclasses. Privatize the criminal justice system, make it profitable to incarcerate, buy off some corrupt public servants. Everyone gets to drive a fuckin' Lexus. It was bound to happen. Let's finish the job & have Xe (rebranded Blackwater
) supply our police & subcontract the courts to Halliburton.
Labels: bully pulpit, in the news
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