Saturday, February 12, 2011

The LuLac Edition #1470, Feb. 12th, 2011




Testimony began this morning with former Prothonotary Jill Moran taking the stand. Moran testified that Powell took her into a windowless room and was found stuffing cash into a Fed EX Box. She said Powell muttered that this was going to be the last time he would be doing this.
Drama ensued when Judge Edwin Kosik interrupted defense attorney Al Flora to ask about his line of questioning for a third time in the trial. The duo had a testy exchange, with Flora arguing the judge had overstepped his bounds. Kosik stood his ground, and Flora said "in light of" the judge's remarks, "I move for a mistrial." Kosik immediately denied the motion. It was like a grad student questioning the teaching methods of a tenured professor but it had its effect. Till this time many Court observers felt that the defense team was a bit toothless in their defense of the Judge. At one point during the morning session, Kosik apologized to Flora for his handling of the situation.
The exchange happened when Flora was asking Jill Moran about Robert Powell weakness or strength of character and how that was relevant to her testimony. Kosik interrupted, asking the relevance. "The government has portrayed Attorney Powell as a weak individual," Flora said, "we have the right to challenge that."
Kosik said Moran had made no comment that opened the opportunity for such questioning, then told Flora "You don't have the right to waste time in this trial unless"under appropriate circumstances.
Under cross, Moran said she knew that Powell and Luzerne County Court Administrator William Sharkey were friends, and that to her knowledge Powell had never asked Ciavarella to avoid scheduling one of his cases with a judge other than Ciavarella.
Paul McGarry next testified. McGarry ran Probation Services for a few years in the last decade. He said that while his department typically handled contracts to place juveniles he never saw the placement agreement signed by Conahan. McGarry testified that he saw no evidence of a mandate to spend more than a million dollars at Pa Child Care. Which was the facility co-owned by Powell.
McGarry seemed to buttress the defense argument that the Juvenile facility was a hellhole. Flora asked McGarry if it was correct to assume the county owned juvenile facility in 2002 "was a dump”. McGarry replied "I think you're being kind."
McGarry described it as rodent and roach infested, with a leaky roof, bad plumbing, no classrooms, no rooms for parents to meet children and no recreational facilities other than a makeshift basketball hoop nailed to a wall.
McGarry said probation officers had their offices in the old facility but they were old jail cells."
McGarry said that the facility was too small and with no medical or other treatment options there.
Flora then paused and intently asked McGarry if the closing of the county owned facility was for the best interests of the juveniles going there?
McGarry said he believed that.
Earlier U.S. Attorney William Houser tried to trip up McGarry asking him a hypothetical question about the two Judges sharing their interest in the Juvenile Center with him. McGarry replied that hypothetical was beyond his understanding and pointed out that he worked for the President Judge.
State Attorney General’s office employee Timothy Keatiing outlined the efforts by former Luzerne County Controller Stephen Flood to get an audit of PA Child Care being done by th Department of Public Welfare. Judge Conahan sealed all information about Flood’s request Keating testified about the Times Leader’s efforts to get information on the case.
Judge Edwin Kosik's decision to allow evidence involving past court cases Ciavarella ruled on as judge while Robert Mericle was one of the parities in the lawsuit had very big ramifications in the afternoon session. The government is trying to prove Ciavarella hid his financial involvement with Mericle by not disclosing his business dealings with the developer.
Attorneys Stephen Carpenito and Lawrence Durkin testified they represented clients in lawsuits with Mericle on the opposite side, and that Ciavarella as the presiding Judge did not say he was receiving finder's fees from Mericle for construction of PA Child Care.
Veteran Conahan Employee Lisa Davidson, who ran Conahan’s business out of her testified she ran the books for Beverage Marketing, Her testimony included payments to various entities including Mark Ciavarella. CPA Michael DeCosmo also testified explaining tax returns for the Pinnance Group and Beverage Marketing.
At the end of the day, Judge Kosik explained to the jury the definition of a conspiracy. The Judge said, "Often they say the charge of conspiracy is the darling of the modern prosecutor's nursery". Kind of like how mail fraud is also included in every goverernment indictment of a public offical. But I digress.
The Judge who had sparred this week with both the Defense and Prosecution subtly reminded everyone that he was on top of things and very much in charge. Testimony resumes on Monday at 8:30AM in Scranton.
LuLac is covering the trial for TV 35 WYLN TV.


At 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Justice in LuLacland

Thanks for the excellent coverage.
I have been cut off by the online Scranton newspaper, but I dont miss it at all. Other papers are available but I find your coverage the most concise.
I hope you are able to do the same for the Cordaro/Munchak trials should they ever come to pass.
My concern re the current trial is the appeals which will follow the decision if it is as it appears it will be, Guilty. I hate the thought of this creep being on the streets one more day let alone a prolonged appeal process. From the courtroom to the jail if Guilty as it was in his kingdom! Followed by a general population prison and not a country club.

At 11:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jill Moran was looking fine walking into the courthouse. I guess confession is good for the body as well as the soul. Did you see those thighs peeking out from those boots?

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have to agree with 11:40pm. Jill Moran looks incredible. Being free from County gov't and corruption has done her good.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Paul said...

Paul McGarry said... I was a prosecution witness and had spent several hours going over my testimony with the Feds. I knew the questions and they knew the answers to all the questions before they asked them at trial....except the last one. What would I have thought if Conahan had told me about the financial deal? The Feds had told me to tell them if I didn't understand the question. That's what I did. The answer to the question is not as simple as a yes and no. Did I think the old place was a dump? YES!!! Did I think the kids would be better off at a new facility? YES!!!. Did I think that something had to be done to get the County to take action on a dilapidated building/ YES!!!! Did I think it was right for Judges to make money if kids were Placed? Absolutely NO!


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