3rd Circuit Court Won’t Rehear Ciavarella’s Case
The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has refused to rehear disgraced “kids for cash” Judge Mark A Ciavarella’s case for a new trial on his remaining convictions.
In March, a panel of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Chief U.S. District Judge Christopher C. Conner that Ciavarella’s most serious convictions — on charges of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit money laundering — should be overturned. However, the court determined a statute of limitations defense would not have resulted in acquittal on honest services mail fraud charges, allowing those convictions to stand.
Last month, Ciavarella’s attorney Jennifer P. Wilson filed a petition seeking a new hearing, arguing the jury’s verdict “clearly found the only kickback at issue to be the 2003 payment of $997,600.” If the jury had been instructed about the statute of limitations, jurors might have found the scheme to defraud ended outside the period of limitations, she argued.
In a brief order filed last week, Circuit Court Judge Thomas L. Ambro denied the petition, saying a majority of judges of the circuit voted against a rehearing.
Ciavarella and another former judge, Michael Conahan, were accused of accepting $2.8 million in kickbacks in exchange for funneling hundreds of juvenile defendants to for-profit detention centers built by wealthy developer Robert K. Mericle’s construction firm. They were operated by companies controlled by former local attorney Robert Powell.
Ciavarella, 69, is serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison, currently at Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky. His expected release date is Dec. 30, 2035, but that could change following a new trial on the charges that were reversed.
Conahan, 67, who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges, is now serving 17½ years at FCI, Miami. His expected release date is Dec. 18, 2026.
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