Pa. builder to plead in judge kickback scheme

August 13, 2009 10:33:19 AM PDT
A builder will plead guilty in a "kids-for-cash" kickback scheme involving two ousted judges in northeastern Pennsylvania. Federal prosecutors say Robert Mericle has signed a plea agreement in the case.

An information filed Thursday charges Mericle with failing to tell a grand jury about $2.1 million in payments to the judges.

Federal prosecutors say former Luzerne County judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan were paid to place juvenile offenders in two private detention centers built by Mericle's construction company.

Facility owner Robert Powell has also pleaded guilty in the case.

The judges had pleaded guilty to tax and fraud charges. But their pleas are on hold after a federal judge rejected the negotiated 87-month sentences.

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