State’s jailed ‘Kids for Cash’ judge re­buffed again by high court

The Morning Call - - LOCAL/STATE -

WILKES-BARRE – The U.S. Supreme Court has once again de­clined to take up the case of a for­mer north­east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia judge con­victed of what pros­e­cu­tors said was a scheme that wrongly sent ju­ve­niles to a de­ten­tion cen­ter.

The de­nial Mon­day by the na­tion’s high­est court with­out ex­pla­na­tion was the sec­ond for for­mer Luzerne County judge Mark Ci­avarella Jr., who has been serv­ing a 28-year sen­tence at a fed­eral prison in Ken­tucky.

Ci­avarella, 69, was con­victed in 2011 of ac­cept­ing bribes in ex­change for or­der­ing kids to a for-profit de­ten­tion cen­ter for a wide range of rel­a­tively mi­nor in­frac­tions, a scan­dal fea­tured in a “Kids for Cash” doc­u­men­tary.

He has de­nied wrong­do­ing. The 3rd U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals va­cated a charge of hon­est ser­vices mail fraud on the grounds that it was be­yond the five-year statute of lim­i­ta­tions but up­held the other charges and the ver­dict. In 2014, the Supreme Court de­nied his first pe­ti­tion for re­view.

In 2018, a judge threw out rack­e­teer­ing and money laun­der­ing con­spir­acy charges. The 3rd U.S. Cir­cuit up­held that rul­ing but de­nied Ci­avarella’s bid to add mail fraud con­vic­tions to the list of va­cated charges.

The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader re­ports that his pe­ti­tion to the Supreme Court ar­gued that the ap­pel­late court tied the kick­backs to lengthy pe­ri­ods of de­ten­tion even though he main­tained that there was no ev­i­dence pre­sented at trial to support that po­si­tion.

He also ar­gued that a 2016 rul­ing by the high court on con­duct out­side of­fi­cial acts ap­plied to his deal­ings with a de­vel­oper and for­mer town­ship at­tor­ney that led to the con­struc­tion of the de­ten­tion cen­ters, the pa­per re­ported.

For­mer county Judge Michael Con­a­han, 67, pleaded guilty in 2010 to rack­e­teer­ing in the case and has been serv­ing a 17½-year sen­tence at a fed­eral prison in Florida.

DAVID KIDWELL/AP FILE PHOTO

For­mer Luzerne County judge Mark Ci­avarella leaves the fed­eral court­house in Scran­ton in 2009.

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