These judges should be put in jail in solitary. How much hope have they cost the kids who were innocent? Or who were only guilty of small things? What would they do if it was their own kids?
This is from the New York Times:
Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for ProfitNiko J. Kallianiotis for The New York Times
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.
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.
You’d think that they would DEFINITELY be going to jail, right? Forever? But the article talks about their pensions! Like they ought to be around to enjoy them or not!
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.