Author Topic: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit  (Read 2096 times)

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Offline 001010

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Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« on: February 23, 2009, 07:14:37 PM »
This is pretty messed up.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/13/us/13judge.html

Hillary Transue was sentenced to three months in juvenile detention for a spoof Web page mocking an assistant principal.



By IAN URBINA and SEAN D. HAMILL
Published: February 12, 2009
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.
 
David Kidwell/Associated Press



Prosecutors say Judges Michael T. Conahan, and Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., above, took kickbacks to send teenagers to detention centers.
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.
 


Judge Michael T. Conahan, above

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.”

______________________________________________________________________________


A link to the lovely institution -  http://www.midatlanticyouth.com/facilit ... tern.shtml
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Offline 001010

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Re: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2009, 07:24:20 PM »
What is it with these places and blue chairs? http://www.midatlanticyouth.com/facilities/photos.shtml
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Offline Anonymous

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Re: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2009, 07:49:46 PM »
they're the cheapest seating purchasable by these O SO DEDICATED child rehabilitators who always put the welfare of children first!!!!
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Offline Ursus

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Filing of Federal Fraud and Tax Charges
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2011, 01:41:14 PM »
Here's the press release put out by the U.S. Department of Justice back then, regarding the charges filed against these two clowns:

-------------- • -------------- • --------------

U.S. Department of Justice
Middle District of Pennsylvania


    William J. Nealon Federal Building
    235 N. Washington Avenue
    P.O. Box 309, Suite 311
    Scranton, PA 18501-0309
    Phone: (570) 348-2800
    Fax: (570) 348-2037 or  (570) 348-2830

    Ronald Reagan Federal Building
    228 Walnut Street
    P.O. Box 11754, Suite 220
    Harrisburg, PA 17108-1754
    Phone: (717) 221-4482
    Fax: (717) 221-2246 or  (717) 221-4493

    Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Building
    240 West Third Street
    Suite 316
    Williamsport, PA 17701-6465
    Phone: (570) 326-1935
    Fax: (570) 326-7916
[/size]
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 26, 2009

CONTACT:    Martin C. Carlson
U.S. Attorney
(717) 221-4482

FEDERAL OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE THE FILING OF FEDERAL FRAUD AND TAX CHARGES AGAINST TWO LUZERNE COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT JUDGES IN AN ON-GOING PUBLIC CORRUPTION PROBE

Martin C. Carlson, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Janice Fedarcyk, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Leslie DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, jointly announced today that two Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judges have been charged with engaging in a scheme to defraud the public of their honest services, and with conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, in connection with a multi-million dollar honest services fraud scheme involving the placement of juveniles in juvenile detention facilities.

According to federal officials, President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, age 58, and former President Judge Michael T. Conahan, age 56, both of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, have been charged in a two count criminal information with conspiring to impede the IRS in the collection of federal income taxes and with having devised a scheme to defraud the citizens of Luzerne County and of Pennsylvania of the right to their honest services by concealing their receipt of more than $2.6 million between January of 2003 and April of 2007.

Federal officials noted that, in conjunction with the filing of the charges, the United States has also filed plea agreements signed by both of these defendants. In these plea agreements Judge Ciavarella and Judge Conahan have indicated their intention to plead guilty to these honest service fraud and income tax conspiracy charges and have stipulated to serve 87 months in federal prison. The Judges further agree to resign their positions as judges and consent to automatic disbarment from the practice of law, as well as pay restitution as determined by a federal court.

According to the charges filed today in federal court, the defendants engaged in fraud by taking millions of dollars from two unnamed persons in connection with the construction, operation and expansion of juvenile detention centers in Luzerne County and elsewhere. These payments were made to the judges in return for discretionary acts of the judges relating to the construction, expansion and operation of the juvenile facilities and to the placement of juveniles in those facilities. The criminal information charges that, between 2004 and 2007, both judges filed materially false annual statements of financial interests with the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts in which they failed to disclose the sources of income they received from these unnamed persons, and in which they failed to disclose their financial relationship with these businesses. At the same time the Judges were concealing these payments and financial ties, it is alleged that the Judges took a series of actions to benefit these businesses in which they had undisclosed financial interests. These actions are alleged to have included:

    • Taking official action to remove funding from the Luzerne County budget for the Luzerne County juvenile detention facility, effectively closing that facility;

    • Ordering juveniles to be sent to these facilities in which the judges had a financial interest even when Juvenile Probation Officers did not recommend detention;

    • Entering a "Placement Guarantee Agreement" to house juveniles in a facility in which the judges had an interest guaranteeing that the Court of Common Pleas would pay an annual "Rental Installment" sum of $1,314,000, without disclosing payments received by the judges;

    • Adopting procedures for a "specialty court" which created the potential for an increased number of juveniles to be sent to the juvenile detention facilities in which the judges had a financial interest; and,

    • Summarily granting motions to seal the record and for injunctive relief in a civil case relating to a juvenile detention facility in which the judges had a financial interest.

The charges filed today in federal court allege that the defendants deprived the citizens of Luzerne County of their right to the honest services of these judges by taking these actions without disqualifying themselves from these matters in which they had a conflict of interest, and without disclosing to parties involved in court proceedings their conflict of interest and their financial relationship with these businesses, as they were required to do by law, by the Pennsylvania Constitution and by the Canons of Ethics that govern judges' performance of their duties.

According to the charges filed today, the defendants received the payments into businesses that they controlled, and in some instances falsely identified the payments as rental fees for a Florida condominium. The information further charges that the defendants conspired to impede the IRS by making false entries in business records and falsely characterizing the payments they received.

Leslie P. DeMarco, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation stated, "Our mission, as it relates to public corruption, is to identify and prosecute public officials who engage in illegal activities that ultimately lead to violations of tax law or money laundering statutes. Because public corruption is a crime that is generally motivated by greed and revolves around money, a thorough financial investigation is often necessary to successfully prosecute the offenders. With both law enforcement and financial investigation expertise, Special Agents of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation are uniquely qualified to assist in these types of cases. We are pleased to have had this opportunity to work closely with the United States Attorney's Office, the District Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose dedication and perseverance brought this case to a successful resolution. We will continue to devote our resources to vigorously investigate and prosecute those individuals who violate federal law."

"Public corruption is a betrayal of a sacred trust that erodes public confidence, undermines the strength of our democracy, and threatens the integrity of our government," said Janice K. Fedarcyk, Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Division of the FBI, "and for those reasons it remains our top criminal priority. The citizens of Luzerne County, like all citizens of the United States, have a right to expect honest services from their public officials."

Mr. Carlson noted that the case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and by criminal investigators of the Internal Revenue Service. In announcing these charges U.S. Attorney Carlson commended these investigative agencies for their outstanding commitment and tenacity. Mr. Carlson also praised the close working relationship among the investigators and the attorneys, all of whom worked long hours to achieve a successful resolution of the case . Mr. Carlson further noted that Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Carroll worked closely with federal investigators and with the United States Attorney's Office in assisting with the investigation. Mr. Carlson commended Senior Litigation Counsel Gordon Zubrod, who led the prosecution team in this case, and praised the outstanding work of the entire prosecution team, which included Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Houser, Michael Consiglio, Amy Phillips and Criminal Division Chief Christian Fisanick.

****
An Indictment or Information is not evidence of guilt but simply a description of the charge made by the Grand Jury and/or United States Attorney against a defendant. A charged Defendant is presumed innocent until a jury returns a unanimous finding that the United States has proven the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or until the defendant has pled guilty to the charges.
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Offline Ursus

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Date Announced for Guilty Pleas
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2011, 02:15:04 PM »
And, here's the press release announcing the scheduled date of their guilty pleas:

-------------- • -------------- • --------------

U.S. Department of Justice
Middle District of Pennsylvania


    William J. Nealon Federal Building
    235 N. Washington Avenue
    P.O. Box 309, Suite 311
    Scranton, PA 18501-0309
    Phone: (570) 348-2800
    Fax: (570) 348-2037 or  (570) 348-2830

    Ronald Reagan Federal Building
    228 Walnut Street
    P.O. Box 11754, Suite 220
    Harrisburg, PA 17108-1754
    Phone: (717) 221-4482
    Fax: (717) 221-2246 or  (717) 221-4493

    Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Building
    240 West Third Street
    Suite 316
    Williamsport, PA 17701-6465
    Phone: (570) 326-1935
    Fax: (570) 326-7916
[/size]
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 29, 2009

CONTACT:    Martin C. Carlson
U.S. Attorney
(717) 221-4482

DATE ANNOUNCED FOR LUZERNE COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT JUDGES GUILTY PLEA

Martin C. Carlson, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced today that the federal court has scheduled the guilty pleas for Mark A. Ciavarella and Michael T. Conahan on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. before United States District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik.

****
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Ursus

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Judges Plead Guilty to Fraud and Tax Charges
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2011, 02:21:44 PM »
And... here's the press release regarding their actual guilty plea.

It was immediately subsequent to this guilty plea that the New York Times article in the OP was published.

-------------- • -------------- • --------------

U.S. Department of Justice
Middle District of Pennsylvania


    William J. Nealon Federal Building
    235 N. Washington Avenue
    P.O. Box 309, Suite 311
    Scranton, PA 18501-0309
    Phone: (570) 348-2800
    Fax: (570) 348-2037 or  (570) 348-2830

    Ronald Reagan Federal Building
    228 Walnut Street
    P.O. Box 11754, Suite 220
    Harrisburg, PA 17108-1754
    Phone: (717) 221-4482
    Fax: (717) 221-2246 or  (717) 221-4493

    Herman T. Schneebeli Federal Building
    240 West Third Street
    Suite 316
    Williamsport, PA 17701-6465
    Phone: (570) 326-1935
    Fax: (570) 326-7916
[/size]
PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
February 12, 2009

CONTACT:    Martin C. Carlson
U.S. Attorney
(717) 221-4482

TWO LUZERNE COUNTY COMMON PLEAS COURT JUDGES PLEAD GUILTY TO FRAUD AND TAX CHARGES IN ON-GOING INVESTIGATION

Martin C. Carlson, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced today that guilty pleas have been entered in connection with fraud and tax charges in an on-going investigation at the Luzerne County Courthouse.

President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella, age 58, and former President Judge Michael T. Conahan, age 56, both of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to impede the IRS in the collection of federal income taxes and with having devised a scheme to defraud the citizens of Luzerne County and of Pennsylvania of the right to their honest services by concealing their receipt of more than $2.6 million between January of 2003 and April of 2007.

As part of today's guilty pleas both Ciavarella and Conahan have agreed to resign their positions as judges and consent to automatic disbarment from the practice of law, as well as pay restitution as determined by federal court. Both will serve 87 months in federal prison.

On January 26, 2009, federal officials announced the charges against Ciavarella and Conahan. At that time, federal officials alleged that the defendants engaged in fraud by taking millions of dollars from two unnamed persons in connection with the construction, operation and expansion of juvenile detention centers in Luzerne County and elsewhere.

Also as part of this on-going investigation, William T. Sharkey, Sr., age 57, of West Hazleton, Pennsylvania, was charged earlier this month in a two-count criminal information with embezzling over $70,000 in seized gambling proceeds from Luzerne County and converting the money to his own use between June of 1998 and June 2008. Sharkey is scheduled to plead guilty on February 17, 2009 at 10:00 a.m.

This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and by criminal investigators of the Internal Revenue Service.

****
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Offline shaggys

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Re: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2011, 03:31:21 PM »
Glad as hell they got caught and convicted but you can't help but marvel at the carnage these 2 must have unleashed during their time on the bench. Wow! Thanks for posting this one Ursus.
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Offline Ursus

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Re: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2011, 10:04:03 AM »
Quote from: "shaggys"
Glad as hell they got caught and convicted but you can't help but marvel at the carnage these 2 must have unleashed during their time on the bench. Wow! Thanks for posting this one Ursus.
You're welcome, Shaggys! But the real kudos should rightfully be given to 001010, for starting this thread...  :notworthy:

Fwiw, here are some more threads dealing with this case, including blow by blow news coverage of when the scandal hit:

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Offline frustrated

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Re: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2011, 12:16:32 PM »
Because of the sensitivity of the case I'm stating, I can't give info on locations or facilities, but I'm trying to find some help.  I know of a case where a ward of the state is being sent to a youth facility (not a shelter, but one of these behavior modification schools) soleley because he was returned to the state by his guardians.  The child has said over and over "why am I being punished?" and this is my question as well.  Is there ANY way to overturn a judge's decision over a ward of the state?
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Offline Pile of Dead Kids

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Re: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2011, 09:32:10 PM »
Step One is to get a lawyer.

Step Two is to find someone who can get custody.
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...Sergey Blashchishen, James Shirey, Faith Finley, Katherine Rice, Ashlie Bunch, Brendan Blum, Caleb Jensen, Alex Cullinane, Rocco Magliozzi, Elisa Santry, Dillon Peak, Natalynndria Slim, Lenny Ortega, Angellika Arndt, Joey Aletriz, Martin Anderson, James White, Christening Garcia, Kasey Warner, Shirley Arciszewski, Linda Harris, Travis Parker, Omega Leach, Denis Maltez, Kevin Christie, Karlye Newman, Richard DeMaar, Alexis Richie, Shanice Nibbs, Levi Snyder, Natasha Newman, Gracie James, Michael Owens, Carlton Thomas, Taylor Mangham, Carnez Boone, Benjamin Lolley, Jessica Bradford's unnamed baby, Anthony Parker, Dysheka Streeter, Corey Foster, Joseph Winters, Bruce Staeger, Kenneth Barkley, Khalil Todd, Alec Lansing, Cristian Cuellar-Gonzales, Janaia Barnhart, a DRA victim who never even showed up in the news, and yet another unnamed girl at Summit School...

Offline Ursus

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Re: Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2011, 07:32:27 PM »
Quote from: "frustrated"
Because of the sensitivity of the case I'm stating, I can't give info on locations or facilities, but I'm trying to find some help.  I know of a case where a ward of the state is being sent to a youth facility (not a shelter, but one of these behavior modification schools) soleley because he was returned to the state by his guardians.  The child has said over and over "why am I being punished?" and this is my question as well.  Is there ANY way to overturn a judge's decision over a ward of the state?
There's a great article that was recently posted by 'axe murderer' in the News Items forum ... which addresses this very issue as it currently exists in the Washington, DC area. See:

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