There is a surprising development in the case of former Luzerne County Judges Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan in Pennsylvania. U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik has rejected the plea bargain given the two former judges who previously pleaded guilty in a scheme to steer juveniles to for-profit detention facilities for $2.6 million in kickbacks. The decision of Kosik shows the dangers of defendants speaking to the media between pleas and sentencings.
Many observers objected to the 87-month sentence for the two judges as insufficient. Now, they face the choice of withdrawing their pleas or accepting Kosik’s re-sentencings.
The problem occurred after the guilty plea. Ciavarella made comments after his plea that indicated that he still claimed innocence. Kosik also noted with disfavor objections filed by Conahan to the presentencing report. Conahan, the court notes in the order below, refused to discuss his motivation with the probation staff and denied critical facts in his plea. He calls these objections “obstructive.” For his part, Ciavarella (right) is not criticized for his presentence interviews or report but is criticized for public statements where he denies that there was a quid pro quo — the central allegation in the plea agreement.
For a copy of the order, click here.
For the full story, click here.