Juvenile Detention Center in PA Reaches Settlement

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A settlement has been reached in the high profile case involving two former judges who took $2.8 million in alleged kickbacks from a commercial builder, an attorney, and a businessman in exchange for giving higher and more frequent sentences to juveniles in order to keep full two new juvenile detention centers that they had a financial interest in. The settlement in the civil suit against PA Child Care and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp. is reported to be $2.5 million and has been sent to US District Judge A Richard Caputo for approval.

This marks the end of what has been a long and sorted legal battle, beginning with the judges themselves. One of the judges in question was responsible for 6,500 wrongful juvenile offender convictions, all of which were overturned by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania shortly after former judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was indicted in September of 2009 after withdrawing a guilty plea he had entered the previous February. He was eventually sentenced to 28 years in prison in August of 2011, less than the possible life that he could have received, for racketeering, mail fraud, money laundering, tax fraud and other related crimes. In December of 2012, a settlement for $18 million was awarded to the children wrongly convicted by Ciavarella and Michael Conahan, the other judge involved. Ciavarella attempted to appeal based on statements the lower court judge had made to the media before sentencing, but the appeals court found against him.

Conahan managed a plea bargain for his part in the crime, receiving only a 20 year prison sentence, fines, and disbarment. A joint attempt at a plea bargain by the two men for honest services fraud and tax evasion was rejected as it appeared neither accepted responsibility for their actions and the sentence was far too light.

If the settlement with the service companies is approved, as it is expected to, it is unclear whether or not the companies in question will actually be hurt by it at all. Regardless, this should be the end of this scandal and the requisite fallout it has caused.

 

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