US Supreme Court again rejects former judge’s appeal

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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court again declines to take up the case of a former Northeastern Pennsylvania judge convicted in what prosecutors said were juveniles wrongly sent to a detention center.

The denial Monday by the nation’s highest court without explanation was the second for former Luzerne County judge Mark Ciavarella Jr., who has been serving a 28-year sentence at a federal prison in Kentucky.

Ciavarella, 69, was convicted in 2011 of accepting bribes in exchange for ordering kids to a for-profit detention center for a wide range of relatively minor infractions. Sentenced to 28 years, he has denied wrongdoing.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a charge of honest services mail fraud on the grounds that it was beyond the five-year statute of limitations, but upheld the other charges and the verdict. In 2014, the Supreme Court denied his first petition for review.

In 2018, a judge threw out racketeering and money laundering conspiracy charges. The 3rd U.S. Circuit upheld that ruling but denied Ciavarella’s bid to add mail fraud convictions to the list of vacated charges.

The (Wilkes-Barre) Times Leader reports that his petition to the Supreme Court argued that the appellate court tied the kickbacks to lengthy periods of detention even though he maintained that there was no evidence presented at trial to support that position.

He also argued that a 2016 ruling by the high court on conduct outside official acts applied to his dealings with a developer and former township attorney that led to the construction of the detention centers, the paper reported.

Former county judge Michael Conahan, 67, pleaded guilty in 2010 to racketeering in the case and has been serving a 17½ sentence at a federal prison in Florida.

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