The LuLac Edition #705, Jan. 26th, 2009
COPPING A PLEA
The long saga of impending charges against two Luzerne County Judges appears to be at a dramatic crossroads. Federal officials today announced they charged Luzerne County judges Mark A. Ciavarella and Michael T. Conahan with concealing more than $2.6 million. The dates ranged from January 2003 to January 2007. The charges were filed today in federal court. The charges alleged Ciavarella and Conahan engaged in fraud by taking millions of dollars from two unnamed individuals connected to the construction and expansion of the juvenile detention center. Payments were made to the judges in return for discretionary acts that the judges took relatied to the juvenile centers. The Judges have already made a plea agreement and will resign the county bench and serve terms of 87 months. Breaking that down, we're talking roughly 7 years. The indictment charges both judges with engaging in a scheme to defraud the public of their honest services and with conspiring to defraud the IRS. The resignations will put the Luzerne County Judiciary in an uproar with 5 Judge vacancies in this election year. Earlier in the day, Ciaverella resigned as President Judge in reaction to his fight with the County Commissioners over budget and hiring matters.