Ex-Judge to Plead Guilty in Kids-for-Cash Scandal; Is He ‘Singing Like a Bird’?

Former Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan has agreed to plead guilty to one count of racketeering conspiracy in the $2.8 million “kids for cash” scandal.

Conahan faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced, according to the Legal Intelligencer and the Associated Press. The agreement does not include a minimum sentence; instead it specifies the penalty will be “determined by the court.”

According to the Intelligencer, “The sentiment from several sources upon reviewing the plea deal was: ‘He must be singing like a bird.’ ” The sources said Conahan essentially ran the county and will be expected to name lawyers or others in the alleged conspiracy.

Conahan and another judge, Mark Ciavarella Jr., were accused of accepting kickbacks in exchange for jailing juveniles in a private detention facility. A federal judge rejected a plea deal last year that called for sentences of 87 months in prison, saying the defendants had not accepted responsibility for their wrongdoing.

Ciavarella’s lawyer, Al Flora Jr., told AP that his client maintains his innocence. ”He’s going to trial,” Flora said.

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