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February 18, 2009

Federal sentencing fall-out from juve sentencing corruption

Regular readers will recall last week's remarkable story of two Pennsylvania state judges who to plead guilty to taking millions in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers.  This new local story reports on a fascinating federal sentencing echo from that case:

The fallout from disgraced Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr.’s handling of juvenile court cases has now spread to the federal court system.  On Tuesday, a lawyer for Justin Plesh, a Hazleton man awaiting sentencing in a marijuana trafficking case in U.S. District Court, asked that a marijuana possession case handled by Ciavarella in 2003 not be considered in determining Plesh’s sentence under federal guidelines.

Plesh was 16 in May 2003 when Ciavarella sent him to a juvenile detention center, according to a motion filed by his federal public defender.... If the juvenile court case is counted against Plesh in the federal case, the low end of sentence would increase by 13 months, the motion says. Plesh faces a maximum of five years in prison.

The motion argues that the federal court should nullify Ciavarella’s rulings due to his recent guilty plea to accepting $2.6 million in kickbacks in connection with juvenile-detention contracts and a review of all his juvenile court cases ordered by the state Supreme Court.  Ciavarella failed to inform hundreds of juvenile defendants of their rights to an attorney, according to a lawsuit filed by the Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia advocacy group.... “It is respectfully requested that this Honorable Court issue a ruling that unequivocally states that none of the actions of Mark A. Ciavarella while he was masquerading as an honest juvenile judge be given any recognition, force or effect,” the motion says.

February 18, 2009 at 07:26 AM | Permalink


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The juvenile adjudication is tainted, and it should not count. Period.

Posted by: federalist | Feb 18, 2009 1:43:39 PM

All of the adjudications by these two criminals should be set aside. They harshly sentenced kids to state prisons to put the word out that unless the vig was paid one got the hammer. This is old Sicilian handiwork. Those that paid the bribe got off or went to private houses of detention.

As to the sentences received by the two extortionist judges. The Government (that is a big G) should appeal the sentence and ask for resentencing. The victims of this child abuse should be allowed to testify or provide input at the sentencing. The State of Pennsylvania should be prosecuting these two extortionists under state law for child abuse, corruption, extortion, etc.

Posted by: mpb | Feb 19, 2009 7:46:22 AM

I was in error. The extortionists have not been sentenced yet. All of the victims should be heard at sentencing. The plea should be rejected. This case deserves a public trial--at The Hague.

Posted by: mpb | Feb 19, 2009 7:52:49 AM

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