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Friends of the court

The ascension of Mark Ciavarella from neighborhood lad from the East End to the presidency of the Luzerne County judiciary and his subsequent fall from grace is a cautionary tale in many ways.
I used to work with a lot of guys who were delighted to see their “Scooch” wearing the robe on the bench. An affable guy, he didn’t seem to mind the nickname.
Perhaps it was too much, too soon. It seems Judge Ciavarella fell in with the wrong crowd pretty quick. His companions were people like the arrogant Attorney Bob Powell and fellow Judge Michael Conahan, two high rollers who enjoyed la dolce vida. Ciavarella already knew developer Bob Mericle from his younger days, and these four concocted a deal that sounded good on the surface, but quickly turned into what the government now calls “a criminal enterprise.”
A “for profit” juvenile detention center sprung up like a wild mushroom in a Pittston Township industrial park. Soon, the county’s juvie center was deemed unfit for humans, even though the state of Pennsylvania didn’t see it that way. Then, there was a multi-million dollar lease and a contract that yoked the county to the facility for two decades.
Of course, there were the stories. They began to circulate long before the feds pulled back the curtain to reveal this caper in the harsh light of day. Since juvenile proceedings were closed to the public, Judge Ciavarella could operate without scrutiny and often amongst his friends in the court system. Soon, the rate of incarceration for juvenile offenders skyrocketed. At one point, the Juvenile Law Center of Philadelphia cried foul about youthful offenders appearing without counsel, but that was only a pothole on the super highway of corruption.
The sensational trial that’s been unfolding for the past eight days has had a little bit of everything. There was Bob Powell’s contention that he was a cowering victim of a shakedown, instead of a towering former D1 athlete known for his cocky behavior and extravagant flair. I mean, how many other “friends” leave $1,000 on the barbeque grill when a son graduates? That’s what Mark Ciavarella’s kid got from Powell. Some grads around here are lucky to score a savings bond.
Then, there was a bombshell from a hostile defense witness, who was ordered to appear against her will. She testified she saw Bob Powell hand over two envelopes overflowing with cash to an unnamed state official on the tarmac of the Hazleton Airport in 2006. I guess the defense wanted to illustrate everyone’s doing it.
The testimony of the defendant himself was the damning of them all. Yes, he cheated on his taxes. Yes, he pocketed about 20 grand from his retention campaign. Of course, there was a whiff of conspiracy.
Just don’t accuse him of taking cash for kids, whatever you do. Ciavarella said he received a finder’s fee from Robert Mericle. What did he find, you ask? That’s a great question.
Amazingly, this former president judge who graduated from law school asked the builder, “Is it legal?”
Imagine if Mericle had taken Ciavarella to a warehouse and asked him, “Is this ceiling in good shape?” Yep, that’s the level of absurdity this case has reached.
Today, Judge Edwin Kosik meticulously instructed a jury on how to judge the 39 counts Ciavarella faces, which, if he’s found guilty of, could put the former jurist into jail for an undoable stretch of 597 years. They looked determined to see it through and I believe they will. And, they’ll probably do something Mark Ciavarella avoided in some of his decisions: Rational thought and careful deliberation of the facts.

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Topics : Law_Crime
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Locations : Luzerne CountyPennsylvania
People : Bob MericleBob PowellEdwin KosikMark CiavarellaMichael ConahanRobert Mericle

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02/16/2011 7:54PM
Friends of the court
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02/22/2011 6:03AM
Corbett takes glee in Ciaverella "going to hell"
shame on WILK for airing garbage radio ( Corbett Show)
02/22/2011 6:05AM
Corbett a true idiot.
just listen to Monday's show to confirm what most of NEPA already knows about Corbett.
02/22/2011 9:16PM
This creep has no shame. Todays show, Corbett supporting unions. Now think, years ago, paper strike, Wackenhut Guards, bus loads of goons to protect strike breakers, ya know, people crossing the pickett line to take bread off the table of local newspaper union workers. And guess who was right there, CROSSING THE PICKET LINE, THATS RIGHT, STEVE THE SCAB CORBETT. And we have Union Reps calling his show!! In hard coal country, where unions started, a SCAB IS A SCAB FOR LIFE. WAKE UP UNIONS, THIS IS WHY UNIONS ARE ION DANGER, SCABS LIKE STEVIE!
02/23/2011 6:34AM
FDR said federal unions will never work, Corbett.
The states are out of money, Corbett. What don't you understand about that, Corbett? The majority of NEPA hopes your beloved unions FAIL, Corbett. For example, Corbett- look at the PennDot worker- fat, sluggish, taking breaks all day, watching the clock all day, accomplishing very little for the huge hourly rate he collects. Game over, Corbett. duhhhh!?
02/23/2011 9:26PM
Had to See it to Believe It
There I was today, at the UNION rally in Scranton, Union Brothers and Sisters showing support for our Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin. And guess who puts the face made for Radio front and center? None other than our hero, Stevie the SCAB Corbett. If that wasn't bad enough, who is sucking up to the SCAB CORBETT, one of the head UNION REPS for the Luzerne County Courthouse workers! I won't mention his name, but what a Union you guys have with your leader sucking up to the SCAB. If you don't remember how he became a SCAB, check Capitol Cites newspaper Strike, Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, 1978. I dare you Union workers to call the show, please let him deny that he, Scumbag Stevie Corbett, did not cross that picket line. You know, longest newspaper strike in the country. Broke four, yes four unions, with the help of STEVIE the SCAB. Ask him about the reporter who lost his job because SCAB STEVIE crossed the picket line. Honestly, he has no shame. What a hypocrite. Once a SCAB, SCAB forever. We don't want you Stevie. Please tell your listeners about that time of your disgusting career. Hypocrite. WAKE up UNIONS.
02/24/2011 11:46PM
Well, as everyone knows, nobody will get through on this scum station that wants to hear about the hypocrite SCAB.SCAB, Ihope the phony Sue tells you this, not everyone in this Valley that are Old School True Union will ever forget you. You are, and always will be a SCAB, which is why 90% of your family disowned you. You can lie on this scum station, but if you have a heart, which you never did, and if you can look in a mirror without puking, you know lowlife, you are a SCAB! How would Granpa like that phony!
02/26/2011 8:57AM
Unions have destroyed.
Time for unions TO BE destroyed. Flame on!
02/26/2011 11:46AM
union people are supporting the liberal agenda
Here's how it works: the beloved union fights for higher wages, with higher wages come higher dues, which the go to 99% liberal democrat party and causes. This is called money laundering. Time to stick it to the unions for once and destroy this armof the Democrat Party.
02/27/2011 12:45AM
You are a liar Stevie, You did not croos picket line! Phony puke is what u are!
02/27/2011 11:40AM
Yes Corbett, you are an absolute LIAR. You did cross a picket line, I was there! To bad you are so God awful homely, you stand out in a crowd. And, tell us why you were FIRED from the scab paper later on. And while you are at it, deny you didn't get out of a DUI in Wilkes-Barre, be real careful here! You are a cancer to this area.
03/21/2011 9:48PM
It's La Dolce Vita, not Vida (Spanish) my sweet....def
05/05/2011 5:43PM
LA DOLCE VITA!!! Dang It!! Doggone!!! FOGLIETTA
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