Former Pa. judges indicted in kids-for-cash scheme

September 10, 2009 8:05:26 AM PDT
An indictment accuses two former Pennsylvania judges of racketeering, bribery and extortion in connection with a $2.8 million scheme to place youth offenders in private detention centers.

A federal grand jury returned the 48-count indictment late Wednesday afternoon. It was made available to the public Thursday morning.

Former Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella (shiv-uh-REL'-uh) Jr. and Michael Conahan are accused of taking kickbacks related to the construction of two youth detention facilities.

The indictment says Ciavarella routinely deprived youth defendants of their right to counsel and ordered kids into detention even when probation officers didn't recommend it.

The judges were originally charged in January. They had agreed to plead guilty to a pair of fraud charges in return for sentences of more than seven years in prison. After a federal judge rejected the plea deal, the pair switched their pleas to not guilty.


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