Judge Found Guilty In ‘Kids-For-Cash’

A federal jury in Pennsylvania on Friday found former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. guilty in the infamous “kids-for-cash scheme,” in which he and another judge received kickbacks of up to $2.8 million for putting juveniles into detention centers owned by friends.

Children as young as 10 were jailed and at least one killed himself as a result of harsh sentences that ruined their lives. A child’s guilt or innocence rarely, if ever, was considered by the judges.

Ciavarella left the bench in disgrace two years ago after the allegations came to light and is expected to be jailed for at least 13 years. But instead of being caged immediately he was allowed to walk out of court – right into a barrage of abuse from the mother of an all-star wrestler who committed suicide after he sent him to jail. Edward Kenzakoski, 17 was never the same after being jailed for a first-time minor drug offense, his mother Sandy Fonzo raged.

“Do you remember my son? Do you remember my son? He was an all-star wrestler and he’s gone,” she screamed. “He shot himself in the heart. You scumbag, you ruined my fucking life.” Fonzo continued yelling as she was moved away, “I’d like him to go to hell and rot there forever.”

Following the verdict, Assistant US Attorney Gordon Zubrod said the court system during the time of Ciavarella and the other judge, Michael Conahan, was a “criminal enterprise.”

In 2009, both judges were offered plea agreements that would have resulted in 87 months in prison but those offers were nullified by US District Judge Edwin Kosik, who deemed them insufficient. Kosik presided over the Ciavarella case.

More than 70 juveniles and their families have filed a class-action lawsuit against the two former judges claiming they “used kids as commodities that could be traded for cash.”

The judges did little to hide their activities. Detention centers were notified of the number of incoming juveniles to expect each day – prior to the juvenile hearings to determine guilt or innocence. Records showed that the average length of a juvenile hearing in their courtrooms was under two minutes per juvenile.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has thrown out thousands of juvenile convictions issued by Ciavarella, saying he disregarded the constitutional rights of the defendants.

In the video below, Sandy Fonzo, whose son committed suicide, screams at former judge Mark Ciavarella after he’s found guilty in the “kids-for-cash” scheme (profanity).
Vodpod videos no longer available.

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3 Comments to “Judge Found Guilty In ‘Kids-For-Cash’”

  1. Yes these men are derelicts and crooks, and should get the maximum sentence for their involvement in this shameful exploitation of our children, I remember in a criminal Justice class I was taking this very case came up. is it any wonder the public cannot trust the system.

  2. Bud – I wish I had time to add more details. There was a 58-foot yacht (horrifyingly called “Reel Justice”), but it the emotional pain on the kids. Apparently, every lawyer in town knew something was up.

    It definitely puts a spotlight on huge downside to the privatization of public services.

    That video of the anguished mother who’s son committed suicide – the bastard judge smirking the whole time – has bothered me all day.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. That judge ruined many peoples lives and I think he deserves the ELECTRIC CHAIR. The mother of the boy who killed himself should get to flip the swith and watch that bastard fry.

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