“Kids For Cash” Judge Gets 28 Years
It’s not enough. But he’s 61 years old so he’ll probably die of old age in prison.
Former Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. — commonly referred to as the “Kids For Cash” judge — has been sentenced to 28 years in federal prison. Between 2003 and 2008 he railroaded 4,000 juvenile offenders into two private juvenile detention centers. In return, then-Judge Ciavarella received a $1 million bribe from the builder of those two prisons.
Some of these imprisoned juveniles were as young as ten, and a lot of them, even first-time offenders, were jailed for offenses — petty theft, getting in a fight at school — that would usually result in probation or a fine.
All 4,000 of Judge Ciavarella’s “convictions” have been overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Unfortunately it won’t be as easy to overturn the emotional damage suffered by these 4,000 families.
I did a post on this story when I first heard about it. And Michael Moore covered it in Capitalism: A Love Story.
Ciavarella’s co-conspirator — ex-judge Michael Conahan — has also been convicted but hasn’t been sentenced yet. Together, the two judges took more than $2 million in bribes from Robert Mericle, the builder of the two detention centers: PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care. They also extorted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the co-owner of the two facilities, Robert Powell.
During Ciavarella’s trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod told the court:
“The criminal justice system in Luzerne County is ruined and will not recover in our lifetimes.”