Posts tagged ‘Corruption’


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.


Central Asia: Decay and Decline

Central Asia: Decay and Decline, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, analyses the erosion of infrastructure in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Almost two decades after independence, Central Asian countries have nearly run down the schools, clinics, hospitals, roads and power plants built in Soviet times. The region is entering a period when systemic collapse of infrastructure for education, healthcare, transportation and energy is becoming increasingly likely. The risk is particularly high in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

“In five to ten years there will be no teachers to lead classes, no doctors to treat the sick and the absence of electricity will become a norm,” says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Central Asia Project Director. “The time for reform is running out. Continuing declines in the provision of services will exacerbate social tensions in an already volatile region. This in turn could well heighten the potential for future conflict.”

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Corruption & Social Trust in Afghanistan

White Paper: Corruption and Social Trust in Afghanistan by Qiamuddin Amiry

Why has Afghanistan become mired in social distrust and corruption? Do corruption and distrust, as some scholars have claimed, have cultural roots?

Since 2001, one of the main obstacles for good governance and development in Afghanistan has been the existence of pervasive corruption in the country. Donor countries have repeatedly pressed President Hamid Karzai to address issues of corruption. In turn, Mr. Karzai has placed blame on the members of his cabinet and the deputies in parliament. Besides President Karzai and leaders of donor countries, ordinary Afghans are equally frustrated with corruption.

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