Monday, February 14, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1474, Feb. 14th, 2011




Testimony opened up in the trial of Mark Ciavarella today. Certified Public Accountants Barry Spreidel and Jerome Matlowski took the stand today and outlined Ciavarella’s taxes from 2003 through 2006. Matlowski questioned an increase in income for the former jurist saying it was an impressive jump. Ciavarella told him he anticipated more increases in the coming year.
Brian Bernson, a Special Agent for the IRS who was introduced as an expert in money laundering explained the concept and how it related to the case. The agent testified that there needed to be three elements, Placement, Layering and Integration.
Revenue Agent Ray Edley took the stand . He was accompanied by two huge charts that the Prosecution placed toward the jury despite Judge Kosik’s urging to put it near the corner of the room. One was a bar chart which listed the amount of money Judges Conahan and Ciavarella earned, how much they owed in taxes, how much the actually paid in taxes and what the loss of tax income was as a result of those actions. Looking at the chart the agent explained that there was a discrepancy that numbered in the thousands of dollars between what the Judges paid and what they were supposed to pay.
After the agent’s testimony, the prosecution rested. This was a surprise to many because it was reported widely that Sandra Brulo, former Probation Chief was supposed to testify. She did not. Apparently the Prosecution felt they didn’t need. There was criticism from some quarters that the Times Leader got it wrong. None of that will come from here. I truly believe that the sources they received on Brulo testifying was solid. I am not a veteran courtroom observer but my gut tells me that the Prosecution is being very careful with who they call, why they call them and when. Brulo as well as former Judge Michael Conahan were scrapped from the witness list. The only people who know that are the members of the Prosecution and Ms. Brulo and Mr. Conahan.
Attorney Flora asked the Judge to rule on Motions of Acquittal on various counts. Flora was heard but the motions were denied. The Jury was out of the room at the time.
After an hour and 45 minute break, the Defense began their case. Most everyone associated with the trial got back early. People were milling around the second floor courtroom in anticipation of the door opening up. Mark Ciavarella stood with his family and a few friends outside the door. Art one point, Ciavarella did a small walk in a circle around the bystanders waiting to get in. Defense Attorneys Flora and Ruzzo were off to the side conferring with Attorney Tom Marsillio. The reasons for this small meeting would become clear later on in the afternoon.
When the doors opened up, the defense began their case. Family members Brian Stall, Ciavarella’s son in law testified that Robert Powell was a visitor to the Ciavarella home. He said his demeanor matched his size, big and that Powell was a dominant force whenever he visited the Ciavarella home.
Nicole Ciavarella Oravic, Ciavarella’s daughter testified that Powell was effusive in his praise of Ciavarella. He gave the woman summertime jobs in his law firm while she went to school. She testified that she felt Powell was demanding, a great story teller and wanted to be the center of attention. She also said that Powell didn’t seem to be a guy that would be pushed around by anyone.
The most poignant testimony from the family came from Marco Ciavarella. The young Ciavarella said Powell was so praising of his father that at one juncture it made his mother (Ciavarella’s wife) cry. The young man said Powell told him, “The only thing you can take in life with you is your name. Your daddy is a good man and has given you a good last name”. The Prosecution did not cross this witness.
The defense recalled prosecution witness IRS agent Ben Wylam, and asked him about interviews he had with Attorney Robert Powell in the summer and fall of '08. Wylam said he didn't recall asking Powell if CIavarella knew about checks Powell wrote to Michael Conhan, but on cross-examination, Wylam said Powell did say he received instructions about them.
The next witness was Gina Carelli. She came to the courtroom with the aforementioned Tom Marsillio. I had a brief encounter with her before the doors opened up. I had driven up to Court with a WYLN TV 35 videographer but needed a ride home. I thought Marsillio would have been a good contact since his law office is on Darling Street in Wilkes Barre. I came up behind her and tapped her on the shoulder trying to see if I could get her to get Marsillio’s attention for me. After I touched her, she nearly jumped 10 feet high in panic. But any trace of that trepidation was gone when she took the stand. It turns out that she was the former fiancé of former Hazelton Mayor Michael Marsicano and contacted the Defense on Saturday after hearing Powell’s testimony.
Among her bombshells were:
That she had known Attorney Robert Powell for 16 years, and that at one point Powell told her he did not want anyone to know his involvement with a condominium in Florida because "he had a girlfriend and was leaving his wife, and didn't want her to get anything."
Carrelli also testified she had gone to pick up Marsicano who is well known as a pilot at the airport once and that she saw Powell and a "high-ranking state official" get of the plane with Powell, and that Powell handed the official two envelopes filled with cash. She said she could tell it was cash because the envelopes did not seal.
Defense Attorney Bill Ruzzo tried to get her to identify the official as a State Legislator but I believe she was having difficulty understanding the concept of State government.
However She did not reveal the state legislator, and she said she would not because of an agreement she made with the defense in order to testify. Carrelli said earlier she was testifying under subpoena and with an attorney present.
Carelli also testified about the condo and how Powell wanted the best level. When asked to define level she described Powell as a bully who wanted what he wanted. Powell said he was paying for it with his money and that Barbara Conahan wanted a lower level because of more square footage.
With the Defense the witness was cooperative and polite. However with the prosecution the witness was terse, combative and this short of argumentative with the Prosecution. The Prosecution clarified that Marsecano was a former fiancé, not a current fiancé. The prosecution questioned the witness why she decided to testify on Saturday night after all these years since the airport incident. She said “It was not my place to say anything, it was Robert Powell’s”. When the Prosecution began a statement saying you claim, she nearly jumped out of her seat saying icily “I did not claim anything”, I’m telling you the truth. This is the truth, not a claim sir”. Judge Kosik jumped in and said that the Prosecution lawyer and the witness needed to dial it down but conceded to the woman “you seem to be holding your own though”.
After Carelli left the stand, the Defense advised the next witness was not around. Court was adjourned at 2:30PM and will resume Tuesday at 8:30AM. The Defense Attorneys indicated earlier to Judge Kosik that they might rest their case by Tuesday afternoon but that was before the early recess.

LuLac is covering the trial for WYLN TV 35.


At 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It has been quite funny listening to Corbett and Sue try and rip Carelli apart.
What doesn't anyone get? She has just discredited Powell and in turn his testimony. Powell and Mericle contradicted on Mericle's payment to Civerella. Mericle claimed it a finder's fee, the tape claimed it a finder's fee, in court Powell said it wasn't. Now with Carelli's basically saying Powell lied about the condo, and insinuating the possibility he pay have paid off another official. It damages his credibility and hurts his testimony.
Civerella does NOT have to prove innocence. In the eyes of the court and jury he is presumed innocent. All his defense needs to do is convince one juror of reasonable doubt.I understand the WILKers bias and attempts to influence public opinion. If Civerella walks, the blame falls upon them. They are the ones, especially Corbett, who pressured the judge not to accept the plea.
This was over 2 years ago. If Civerella walks, and he just might, the pain of those he injured will go unresolved forever.

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Junction said...

Maybe after this and many more trials against the judge are over it may give you some good fodder for another book?

At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you will be putting up today's stuff later, but after what I have read, Civ is cooked. He should never have taken the stand. Flora should have ended and done closing arguments casting reasonable doubt on Powell's testimony. What a mistake going on the stand.
With all that said though, it looks like, if he is convicted, it will only be the same crimes he already had pleaded guilty too. So we spent all this time and taxpayer money to go around the block

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow 7:31 You sure as hell give WILK a lot of credit for power they just dont have. (edited) How exactly could a radio station influence the jury? ROCK 107 maybe
or Frankie Warren back in the day but not WILK!

At 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not the jury, the judge when he rejected the plea. Think about it. The reason Kosik gave was because the Chiv wouldn't admit to kids for cash. Well the prosecution never presented any evidence that he did. All they did was pursue pretty much what he had pleaded guilty to in the past. So why this whole circus and waste of tax dollars. If the Feds had evidence in the kids for cash they would have presented it.
But it doesn't matter, fortunately for the Feds and all involved the Chiv's monster ego got the best of him and he cooked his own goose.

At 11:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good edit , Yonks. What you removed was mean spirited and unnecessary. Thanks. I still think Corbett has an exaggerated sense of his own importance though.

Your Friend,



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