Luzerne County Corruption

Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:56 am

Just an update for are out of town members from the thread I posted here about 2 judges getting indicted, you'll probably want to keep an eye on this as it might possibly lead to some changes in the way juveniles are treated. At the very least at the state level in Pennsylvania and there is good chance nationally.

The Citizens voice has and excellent archive here: http://www.citizensvoice.com/judges/

As it stands now:

  • Guilty Pleas in Luzer County Government
    1. Former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr has pleaded guilty.
    2. Former Judge Michael T. Conahan has plead guilty.
      http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/02/13/news/wb_voice.20090213.t.pg3.cv13cdpleamain_s1.2301923_top2.txt
      First came the fingerprints, then the mug shot, then the guilty plea to accepting $2.6 million inkickbacks with his fellow Luzerne County judge and co-defendant Michael T. Conahan. Still to come was a gauntlet of news cameras and jeering, hooting citizens waiting outside the federal courthouse.
    3. Former County Court Administrator William T. Sharkey Sr. has http://www.citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/02/18/news/wb_voice.20090218.t.pg3.cv18cdjudgessharkey_s1.2312647_top2.txt plead guilty to embezzling $70,000.
    4. Former Luzerne County juvenile probation official Sandra M. Brulo pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for altering a court document after being named in a lawsuit after the proverbial *censored* hit the fan.
  • School District Corruption
    • Pittston School District
      • Pittston Area School District Superintendent Dr. Ross Scarantino http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/04/16/news/doc49e75b9d6df48513463531.txt charged with taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks
    • Wilkes-Barre Area
      • Wilkes-Barre Area School Board Member http://www.citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/04/21/news/doc49edeb31693b7509049158.txtBrian Dunn charged with accepting kickbacks for teacher jobs and contracts.
      • Jim Height another Wilkes Barre School board director agrees to plead guilty. http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/05/19/news/wb_voice.20090519.t.pg4.cv19cdheight_s1.2533768_top2.txt link
  • Resignations
    • Former Luzerne County Prothonotarry Jill A. Moran has resigned and is http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/02/25/news/wb_voice.20090225.t.pg4.cv25cdjudgesmoran_s1.2329744_top2.txt cooperating with the investigation .
  • Coming to a theater Near You!
    • Former Judge Ann Lokuta recently removed from the bench http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/03/26/news/wb_voice.20090326.t.pg4.cv26cdjudgeslokuta_s1.2399917_top2.txt has new life and the decision is being reconsidered due to the corruption probe, the main witnesses against here are the people listed above.
    • Currently they are investigating case fixing in insurance cases that may a involve other Judges beside the two who have already plead guilty.

These are just the highlights, this case if it were a movie would not be written as it would be unbelievable and that is not an exaggeration. We have corrupt judges, bribery, alleged extortion, embezzlement, case fixing, alleged fixed hiring practice for teachers and the list is growing. The word is the FBI has brought in extra agents as they keep on digging. The axe is going to fall soon and it's going to fall on a lot of people.
Last edited by Richard S. on Wed Nov 20, 2013 5:02 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Reason: updated
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: samhill On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:37 am

I hope you don`t think that Luzerne county is alone, just one of the first to get caught. I think the bulk of these judges & other elected officials are all the same. They think they are above the law, been running government like that for so long that they believe its ok. Lets hope that there is a domino effect not only in local but federal gov. too.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:56 am

Undoubtedly there are many other places however it's rampant here. Too many people enabling too, you can't tell me all through these years that when these judges were doing theis the prosecutors and other officials involved didn't see anything out of the ordinary.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: stockingfull On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:21 am

Such are the dangers of "privatization."

Remember when Bush wanted to privatize social security? Anybody want that now?

There are some things which, even if they are "less economically efficient," ought to be done by people who are subject to some code of ethics a prosecutor can enforce and send them to jail for violation of.

The sad part is that the lives of some kids got pretty badly scarred in the process. Anybody think they ought to have some o'them terrible, sleazy lawyers suing for damages? ;)
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 11:48 am

The kids being sent off to private jails although the most disturbing is only part of it Stockingfull. There's many aspects to this that involve much more than private facilities. I'll say it again that this was going on for years and involves hundreds if not thousands of cases. The judges, persecutors, others in the courthouse and defense attorneys in this area should all be ashamed of themselves that knew this was going on. I'll say it again, this is not something easily hidden.

http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/02/24/editorial/wb_voice.20090224.t.pg16.cv24cdeditorial_s1.2325777_edi.txt Others in Ciavarella courtroom share blame

.....Ciavarella and the attorneys, police and probation officers who regularly appeared in his courtroom seemed more concerned about moving cases and clearing the court docket than doing what was right for the unfortunate kids who ended up there.

The defense, the prosecution and the probation department seemed to act not as adversaries with their own proper, sometimes conflicting roles to play, but as parts in an infernal machine designed to churn out new victims to fill the cells that made the millions that found their way back to Ciavarella’s pockets.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: stockingfull On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 12:15 pm

Here's the problem: when lawyers and judges do their jobs, they're slow, expensive, churning and/or sleazy. And, when they don't (as here, by falling into a "routine" disposition process), they're corrupt, lax, unethical and/or sleazy.

Note the one common word. Criminal defense and matrimonial are, IMO, the toughest areas in which to practice. I've heard it said that criminal defense involves bad clients on their best behavior, while matrimonial involves good clients on their worst behavior. I've never done, or wanted to do, either.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 12:39 pm

stockingfull wrote: And, when they don't (as here, by falling into a "routine" disposition process),.


If that were the only thing that has happened. Let me give you another example. The paper I linked too above was sued a few years back over some articles they ran about the mob. The one guy sued and won a 3 or 4 million dollar judgment against the paper. Fast forward to now and it was discovered in the court records there was single case where those a specific type of notation and that was the one. The president judge at that time was Conahan and he basically assigned the case to Ciavarella his partner in crime. In the newspaper it's alleged that Conahan would meet with an alleged mob figure about once a month. The mob guy would give him cases and Conahan would put the fix in.

It goes deeper than that though, the feds are also investigating case fixing involving insurance cases and those cases may involve multiple judges and attorneys. It's a systemic issue and this is the tip of the iceberg here and elsewhere. Where the courts are concerned we have the fox watching the hen house. I think what we need is oversight from outside the court system. If they can get away with it here I'd imagine similar schemes are going on elsewhere.

In a neighboring county the bar association announced that they were going to put together a panel that would give recommendations on future elections for judges to prevent corruption. I about fell off my seat laughing. We have a situation here that might involves hundreds of people in the courthouse with Judges and attorneys being the main culprits and they are going to prevent corruption by making recommendations with judges? That's besides the fact I think there is huge conflict of interest with them making any recommendations at all.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Cyber36 On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:44 pm

They would only have two choices in my Kingdom - life in prison using all their money & assets to help pay for it, OR execution..............
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Richard S. On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:38 pm

Cyber36 wrote: all their money & assets to help pay for it,


Yet another controversy, the two judges are still collecting their pensions to the tune of about $8K +/- per month after pleading guilty. They will not lose them until sentencing. Conahan retired a few years back and took a lump payment of something like a $250K which reduced his monthly compensation. Ciavarella applied for the same lump payment the day he resigned from the bench which if I remember correctly amounts to about $180K. They are trying to block payment of it so he doesn't get his hands on it. There's multiple class action civil lawsuits that have been filed.

It's so deep it's ridiculous, for example Conahan had companies he owned that were being utilized by the Child care facility as a vendor . It wasn't just kickbacks.


The money widens though into the billions. Yes billions... The two owners of the juvenile detention facility also had plans in the works for a $1.6 billion dollar cargo airport that was to be built nearby.

http://www.citizensvoice.com/articles/2008/09/16/news/police/doc48cfd519e1895826496125.txt
This link is broken, either the page no longer exists or there is some other issue like a typo.


Together they built Pennsylvania’s largest private provider of juvenile justice treatment services and dreamed up a $1.6 billion cargo airport they claimed would revitalize Northeast Pennsylvania and create 165,000 jobs. But faced with an alleged federal investigation connected to their Luzerne County juvenile detention center, Robert J. Powell and Gregory Zappala split up Tuesday, with Zappala, a Pittsburgh-area investment banker, buying out Powell, a Hazleton-area attorney.
Last edited by Richard S. on Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: <removed dead link>
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: stockingfull On: Mon Apr 13, 2009 3:08 pm

Sad. Where judges don't make enough, some can be tempted by, ahem, "barter" transactions. Where they make too much, they need a lot of money to win the job, with all the tentacles which come from endorsements and fundraising activities.

I've been a judge in a federal admiralty case and I can tell you that, done right, it's a very lonely job.

One tactic I've seen judges use is never to be alone with anybody involved in the cases before them. That way, there's always a witness as to what hopefully didn't happen. But, human nature is what it is, and there's no foolproof cure for corruption except a regular change of faces, and even that's no panacea.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Flyer5 On: Thu Apr 16, 2009 7:57 pm

stockingfull wrote:Sad. Where judges don't make enough, some can be tempted by, ahem, "barter" transactions. Where they make too much, they need a lot of money to win the job, with all the tentacles which come from endorsements and fundraising activities.

I've been a judge in a federal admiralty case and I can tell you that, done right, it's a very lonely job.

One tactic I've seen judges use is never to be alone with anybody involved in the cases before them. That way, there's always a witness as to what hopefully didn't happen. But, human nature is what it is, and there's no foolproof cure for corruption except a regular change of faces, and even that's no panacea.



So is that the excuse you give for them . They don't make enough so we should pay them more to be honest ? I hope I read that wrong . Give me a break .
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Richard S. On: Thu Apr 16, 2009 8:07 pm

Not sure what the figure is but it's around $110K plus benefits. Nonetheless they chose the jobs.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: stockingfull On: Thu Apr 16, 2009 11:43 pm

Anytime the referee gets paid much less than the players, the temptation to, um, see where the "tilt" switch comes on tends to increase. It's rare among judges, and of course I'm not condoning it, but it does happen. The best solutions, however, are those which lessen the economic incentives to cheat.

Federal judges provide an interesting cross-section. A District Judge's salary is the same, $154,700, no matter where he/she sits. Now, if that happens to be in, say, Montana, it's a very good income. OTOH, in NYC, there are associates who make more than that in their second or third year, so it's actually tough to get the best people to take judgeships in NYC. Many NYC Judges come from independently wealthy families. Unfortunately, those that don't are subjected to a wide variety of "influences," most well short of outright bribery but nonetheless "troublesome."

Being a judge, done right, is a goddamned hard job.
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Poconoeagle On: Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:02 am

theres nothing hard about being honest......

its much easier than the dark side ;)
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Re: Luzerne County Corruption

PostBy: Richard S. On: Fri Apr 17, 2009 4:14 am

First charges brought in the school district(s)probe:

http://citizensvoice.com/articles/2009/04/16/news/doc49e75b9d6df48513463531.txt Pittston Area superintendent faces up to 10 years in prison

Pittston Area School District Superintendent Dr. Ross Scarantino faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of the corruption charge brought against him today in federal court, according to a statement from U.S. District Attorney Martin C. Carlson.

Scarantino was charged in U.S. District Court in Wilkes-Barre with taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for steering contracts to an unnamed individual.[/quote]

*underline added by me.
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