Friday, January 31, 2014

The LuLac Edition #2592, January 31, 2014


Around 2007 through 2008, there were rumors going around Luzerne County that something big was going to rock the world of Luzerne County politics. We were already into the credit card debacle on the County level, heard rumors of Commissioners being investigated and on the State level we were dealing with Tom Corbett’s investigation into Bonus Gate. As the Presidential year 2008 continued there were rumors of a major Judicial problem in Luzerne County. But after an uneventful Holiday season, there seemed to be doubt anything would ever break.
During January 2009, there were little blips but nothing until the last week in January. On January 26th I received an e mail from WYOU TV News Producer Dawn Miller. Since December of 2007, I had been a frequent guest analyst on the TV station but I always seemed to get the 7pm or 11pm call. One or the other. I was at my desk at Blue Cross and she asked if I could be available for all the WYOU TV newscasts that night. All of them I thought? Then I knew the charges were going to come down.
You can’t get a full appreciation for how painful and torturous this scandal was for this community until you start at the beginning. Here’s what I wrote that day from Edition # 705 of LuLac.


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 related 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.
I mean we could have gotten out of this easier had Ciavarella stuck to his deal. For me this whole thing was just plain crazy. I had met Judges. As a boy, my uncle introduced me to Judges Brominski and Hourigan. Later on I had the opportunity to meet Judge Corey Stevens and Patrick Toole Senior. I met men like Ralph Johnston, Tom Mack, Charles Bufalino and Michael Collins who had aspired to be Judges. I once interviewed Commonwealth Court Judge Genvieve Blatt. They were friendly but I knew these guys were the pillars that everything was supposed to stand on. Call me naive and silly but this was a real wake up call for me.
Later on that night on WYOU TV, Attorney Matt Cartwright, Eric Scheiner and me took to the airwaves with WBRE’s Andy Mehalshick and gave these comments.

In the rear view mirror the scandal was bad enough. It cost us in terms of reputation and public trust. But as Cartwright alluded to in his TV appearance, this was only the tip of the iceberg. And all of that happened five years ago this week.


At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we wait for a leader:

If God wanted us to vote, he would have given us candidates.

~Jay Leno~

The problem with political jokes is they get elected.

~Henry Cate, VII~

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office


Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

~Nikita Khrushchev~

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it.

~Clarence Darrow~

Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you.

~Author unknown~

Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.

~John Quinton~

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.

~Oscar Ameringer~

I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.

~Adlai Stevenson, campaign speech, 1952~

A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.

~ Tex Guinan~

I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.

~Charles de Gaulle~

Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.

~Doug Larson~

There ought to be one day -- just one -- when there is open season on Congressmen.

~Will Rogers~

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Professor Milburn Cleaver, OPA said...

Good morning students,
As this is Super Bowl weekend, I hope you all post your wagers with your respective bookies in a timely manner. If by chance, Monday morning some of you are absent, I will assume that you are either nursing one of your many hangovers or in traction (perhaps both?---you may laugh). Regardless, if you must indulge in drugs and alcohol in order to enjoy a simple game of football, please do not get behind the wheel of an automobile. The life you save may be mine.
The work of this classroom moves forward…….
Students, Mr. Yonki has brought back some painful memories of the Luzerne County Judicial Scandal. I remember well when an attorney friend informed me of the rumors circulating about the “Courthouse roof about to fall”.
Mr. Chiavarella and Mr. Conahan broke the law. Plain and simple. No debate there.
However, in view of this kids for cash travesty, must we have thrown out the baby with the bath water?????
I speak, students, of the dismissal of each juvenile case brought before Judge Ciavarella during the period of the scandal. Does anyone truly believe that little Johnny, who after all mugged an old lady and took her purse, should be exonerated and ultimately reimbursed financially???? Or little Walter, who was doing cocaine with his buddies when they decided to ‘roll’ the taxpaying gentleman who just exited the local department store. Should little Walter be exonerated and reimbursed???? Of course, if you ask each mother of these ingrates (and many more like them) dear old Mom would say “He’s really a good little boy.” Still, history shows that they all, all of these Cretans were paid well. Whoever said crime doesn’t pay. Poppycock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This entire debacle rests at the feet of the former District Attorney (whose uncle, by the way, is soon to be a recipient of the mental health sect of Obamacare, courtesy of a federal psychiatric facility) who sat quietly whilst doing nothing.
IF we are to learn anything from history it is not to repeat it. I call upon sharper prosecution of juvenile thugs. If little Carl breaks a neighbors window, little Carl should serve out several months in a boot camp, whilst earning the cash to pay for that window. If little Marvin burns down a vacant home to get his kicks, he should serve in a boot camp facility until he turns 18, at which time he be transferred to the darkest and lowliest state prison of this Commonwealth. I think even you lugs would agree with me on these proposals, which after all are only proper. Those who do not, those who will malign my suggestions, are the very ones who, several years from now, when placing bars on the windows of their homes in reaction to the mass crime in their nice neighborhoods will ask ‘why, why, why?’. If this occurs, I ask them to recall Shakespeare. “The fault Brutus, lies not in the stars, but within ourselves.”
In closing, I borrow some lines from JFK updated for this occasion.
“Together we shall save our city, or together we shall perish in its flames.”
Something to think about this morning……..
Class Dismissed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 2:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the subject of judicial corruption enough is enough in the Amanda Knox case! A crazed and corrupt prosecutor with delusions of Manson gang scenarios and a not guilty verdict in one of three trials, all point to a troubled justice system in Italy. No way Amanda Knox should ever be extradited! Period end of story! She is an American citizen who has already served 4 years for a crime I believe she did not commit. I am by no means alone in this belief.
Should this administration or the next even consider returning her to Italy the public outcry would and should be tremendous! Extradition pleas have been denied before and in the end what can the Italian government do if we simply said "NO"! We cannot trust your court system in this case. Deal with it.


At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki, that was a great program on WYOU. Too bad they got rid of that Interactive Newscast.

At 10:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Dave, Cartwright made something of himself, what happened to you and Scheiner?


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