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Legal Ethics

2 Pa. Judges are Suspended, Due to Kickbacks-for-Jailed-Juveniles Case

Posted Jan 29, 2009 12:54 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Acting within days of news that two longtime Pennsylvania judges have agreed to plead in a case alleging that they accepted $2.6 million in exchange for jailing juveniles in specific detention facilities, the state supreme court has suspended both, citing the criminal charges against them.

Mark Ciavarella Jr., 58, who was the president judge of Luzerne County, has been suspended with pay, and Michael Conahan, 56, who was a retired senior judge still hearing cases, has been effectively suspended without pay, since he is compensated on a per-diem basis, according to the Times Leader.

"The action ensures Ciavarella, who resigned as president judge last week, will not be permitted to vote in the election of a new president judge scheduled for Friday," the Wilkes Barre, Pa.-based newspaper writes.

As discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, the two agreed to resign their judicial posts and accept a plea bargain that includes 87-month federal prison terms. They have been accused by U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, concerning the alleged $2.6 million in kickbacks, of "engaging in a scheme to defraud the public of their honest services and with conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service."

However, they have not admitted to all of the accusations against them. They are scheduled to enter guilty pleas to tax evasion and the alleged honest services scheme to defraud on Feb.12.

In its order yesterday suspending the two, the supreme court cited a “compelling and immediate need" to preserve the integrity of the judicial system, the Times Leader reports.

Ciavarella had an annual salary of more than $150,000, while Conahan was paid $483 per day for every day he worked, regardless of how many cases he heard.

Earlier ABAJournal.com coverage:

2 Judges to Plead in Jailing Juveniles for Profit Case, But What About the Kids?

2 Pa. Judges to Resign & Serve Time in $2.6M Juvenile Detention Kickbacks Case


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