Former Luz. Co. Judge Michael Conahan was a different man in federal court than the man many people knew for many years he held public office. Conahan moved quickly up the ladder, District Magistrate, Judge, and then President Judge. People who worked at the courthouse said he was ‘the boss’. A controlling man who pulled the strings, organizing the Kids for Cash scandal, but by no means, doing it alone.
He put pressure on probation officials to recommend incarceration for juveniles, which cost county residents a whole lot of money and destroyed people and families in ways we will never know. When County cutbacks were being made he lead the charge with Ciavarella for more personnel. They were exempt from the rules.
Things like that don’t happen in isolation. I am confident that we have only heard about the tip of the iceberg. The corruption he has admitted to must have gone into areas we will never know. Other people know about it, and they stand silently by. Perhaps they have a hard time sleeping at night wondering what might come. I have a funny feeling the vast majority of players, and playing will not come to light.
Michael Conahan wants you to believe he was corrupt because of his father. Despite the fact that several people wrote letters praising his upbringing, Conahan threw his father under the bus. I did not know his dad. There are many people leading productive and honest lives today who did not have a good upbringing. Conahan’s attorney says it doesn’t excuse his client, but it does explain it. I don’t think so.
I’m wondering if Conahan would have made such accusations if he knew it would only shave 2.5 years off his maximum sentence. I’m thinking he rolled the dice, hoping that it would have a bigger payoff. I would have had more respect for him if he would have taken full responsibility. Maybe his Dad was a money-hungry substance abuser who operated in gray areas, but I’m certain Michael Conahan knew what he was doing was wrong. He chose to be corrupt. Interesting that it was Conahan’s attorney who detailed the alleged abuse, and not the former Judge himself. He let someone else do the dirty work once again.
The disclosure, and appearance of remorse, may have gotten him a much nicer place that he'll call home. The Judge recommends that the Bureau of Prisons consider a comfortable minimum security facility in Pensacola for Conahan. This is a place that Forbes magazine rated one of the cushiest as far as federal prisons go. The cinema, bocci and raquetball are all available. His wife can live nearby in her $643 K home. She'll continue to live the good life, far away from the condemnation NEPA has offered.
Ciavarella, in stark contrast, stares at the ceiling in a medium security prison hundreds of miles away in a much less tropical setting. If it weren't for his obstinance, and Conahan's arrogance, both would be looking at release in just a few years. We can at least be thankful that the very things that lead to their disgrace, also led to a much bigger prison term. Cheers to being who you really are. For once their actions actually helped the people of NEPA!