White-Collar Crime

Federal Judge Again Rejects Guilty Pleas of 2 Former Pa. Judges

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After a federal judge in Scranton refused to reconsider his earlier decision to reject their guilty pleas, two former Luzerne County, Pa., judges withdrew them today.

Mark Ciavarella Jr., who served as the county’s president judge, and former senior judge Michael Conahan are now headed toward trial on honest services fraud and tax evasion charges that could result in far longer sentences than the 87-month terms to which they had agreed, reports the Associated Press.

The two pleaded guilty in February in a case involving $2.6 million in kickbacks allegedly paid to the two in exchange for jailing juveniles in a private detention facility. But Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Kosik rejected their pleas last month, finding that they had evaded responsibility for the crimes in their post-plea conduct, the news agency explains.

The Citizens Voice provides a link to the judge’s three-page memorandum and order (PDF).

Ciavarella’s lawyer notes that his client has not been convicted of any crime and is constitutionally entitled to the presumption of innocence. Conahan’s lawyer declined comment, the AP reports.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “2 Disgraced Pa. Jurists Ask Fed’l Judge to Reconsider Nixed Plea”

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