PA Child Care lawsuits (re "kids for cash" scandal)

PrisonIn January 2009, US prosecutors charged former Pennsylvania judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. of the Luzerne County Juvenile Court and Michael Conahan of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, with fraud and tax evasion in connection with receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks in return for sending teenage offenders to two privately-run juvenile facilities – PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care.  The judges allegedly accepted money from Robert Powell and Robert Mericle, co-owners of the juvenile detention facilities, in return for imposing harsh sentences on juveniles brought before their courts and ensuring that juvenile offenders were sent to PA Child Care facilities.  

In September 2009, a federal grand jury returned a 48-count indictment against the judges, including racketeering, extortion, bribery, money laundering, fraud and tax violations.  Judge Ciavarella was accused of routinely depriving youth defendants of their right to counsel and ordering teenage offenders into detention even when probation officers did not recommend it.  He was sentenced to 28 years in prison and was ordered to pay $1.17 million in restitution.  Judge Conahan was sentenced to 17 years in prison.  In May 2013, a US appeals court upheld all but one of the convictions of Mark Ciavarella.

In June 2009, Robert Powell was criminally charged in the Scranton District Court with failing to report a felony and being accessory to a conspiracy, and in July he pleaded guilty to both charges.  In September 2009, Robert Mericle, pleaded guilty to failing to disclose to the grand jury that he paid $2.15 million to the judges to secure their backing for the PA Child Care facilities.  In April 2014, Robert Mericle was sentenced to one year in prison, received a $250,000 fine and was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

The children and the parents impacted by this “kids-for-cash” scheme filed a class action lawsuit in June 2009 against the judges, Powel, Mericle, PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care seeking monetary damages for the abuses they suffered.  In December 2011, the parties announced a partial settlement in this class action when Mericle agreed to pay $17.7 million to the plaintiffs.  In August 2015, the plaintiffs and Powell agreed on a settlement of $4.75 million.  The class actions against Ciavarella and Conahan are ongoing.

- "Pennsylvania Seeks to Close Books on "Kids for Cash" Scandal", 12 Aug 2015, Jon Schuppe, NBC News (USA)
- "Robert Mericle Sentenced To Prison For Role In "Kids For Cash" Scandal", 25 Apr 2014
- "Mericle agrees to $17M settlement", Dave Janoski, Times-Tribune [USA], 17 Dec 2011
- "“Kids for cash” judge sentenced to 28 years in prison", Global Post, 11 Aug 2011
- "Ciavarella Found Guilty on 12 of 39 Counts", Times Leader, 19 February 2011
- "Ex-jurists plea, still free", Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Times Leader, 16 Sep 2011
- "Ex-US judge pleads guilty to child prison scam", BBC News, 23 Jul 2010
- "Mericle pleads guilty in kids-for-cash scandal", Dave Janoski, Citizens Voice, 2 Sep 2009
- "Judges withdraw guilty pleas, Terrie Morgan-Besecker", Times Leader, 25 Aug 2009
- "Plea Agreement by 2 Judges Is Rejected in Pennsylvania", Ian Urbina, New York Times, 31 Jul 2009
- "Powell pleads guilty", Michael Sisak, Times Tribune, 1 Jul 2009

- Juvenile Law Center [counsel for victims]: Luzerne Kids-For-Cash Scandal (includes links to legal documents for class action)

- [PDF] USA v Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 9 Sep 2009 [Indictment]
- [PDF] USA v Robert K.Mericle, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 9 June 2009, 31 Jul 2009 [Plea agreement]
- [PDF] USA v Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 30 Jul 2009 [Memorandum and Order]
- [PDF] USA v Robert J.Powell, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 9 Jun 2009 [Information]
- [PDF] USA v Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 26 Jan 2009 [Information]

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Article
12 August 2015

Pennsylvania Seeks to Close Books on "Kids for Cash" Scanda

Author: Jon Schuppe, NBC News (USA)

...[T]he case is entering its final chapter: a few remaining class action lawsuits in which victims are seeking millions of dollars in compensation...Robert Powell, would pay $4.75 million. The actual payouts will begin in December, after the plaintiffs choose whether to accept the settlement. Powell, who co-owned two private juvenile justice facilities, served an 18-month prison term after admitting to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to former Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. and his boss, Judge Michael Conahan. In return, Ciavarella routinely found children guilty and sent them to Powell's facilities...The victims and their families have also won millions in judgments from Mericle and Powell's companies. All that's left to adjudicate now are two additional class-action claims against Ciavarella and Conahan, said Marsha Levick, deputy director of Juvenile Law Center, the Philadelphia non-profit that sparked the case when it began investigating questionable juvenile lockups in Luzerne County in 2007.

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Article
25 April 2014

Robert Mericle Sentenced To Prison For Role In "Kids For Cash" Scandal [USA]

Author: Will Hagle, Opposing Views (USA)

Robert Mericle, a builder of for-profit youth detention centers…has been sentenced to a year in federal prison...In addition…Mericle received a $250,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. Mericle was sentenced for lying about his involvement in the “kids for cash scandal,” in which Mericle paid a total of $2.1 million for judges to send juveniles to his detention centers...In 2009, Mericle also plead guilty to failure to disclose a felony, after he initially refused to admit he had paid [the] $2.1 million…He faced up to three years in prison, but his sentence was reduced as part of his plea agreement...Mericle did not actually break any laws by paying the judges, but the judges committed a crime by accepting the money. Prosecutors also argued that Mericle’s actions contributed to the corruption taking place throughout the region…

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Lawsuit
18 February 2014

PA Child Care lawsuits (re "kids for cash" scandal)

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

In January 2009, US prosecutors charged former Pennsylvania judges, Mark Ciavarella Jr. of the Luzerne County Juvenile Court and Michael Conahan of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, with fraud and tax evasion in connection with receiving $2.6 million in kickbacks in return for sending teenage offenders to two privately-run juvenile facilities – PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care.  The judges allegedly accepted money from Robert Powell and Robert Mericle, co-owners of the juvenile detention facilities, in return for imposing harsh sentences on juveniles brought before their courts and ensuring that juvenile offenders were sent to PA Child Care facilities.  

In September 2009, a federal grand jury returned a 48-count indictment against the judges, including racketeering, extortion, bribery, money laundering, fraud and tax violations.  Judge Ciavarella was accused of routinely depriving youth defendants of their right to counsel and ordering teenage offenders into detention even when probation officers did not recommend it.  He was sentenced to 28 years in prison and was ordered to pay $1.17 million in restitution.  Judge Conahan was sentenced to 17 years in prison.  In May 2013, a US appeals court upheld all but one of the convictions of Mark Ciavarella, a former judge who allegedly received kickbacks in return for sending teenage offenders to two privately-run juvenile facilities.

In June 2009, Robert Powell was criminally charged in the Scranton District Court with failing to report a felony and being accessory to a conspiracy, and in July he pleaded guilty to both charges.  In September 2009, Robert Mericle, pleaded guilty to failing to disclose to the grand jury that he paid $2.15 million to the judges to secure their backing for the PA Child Care facilities.

The children and the parents impacted by this “kids-for-cash” scheme filed a class action lawsuit in June 2009 against the judges, Powel, Mericle, PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care seeking monetary damages for the abuses they suffered.  In December 2011, the parties announced a partial settlement in this class action when Mericle agreed to pay $17.7 million to the plaintiffs.  The class action is ongoing.

- "Mericle agrees to $17M settlement", Dave Janoski, Times-Tribune [USA], 17 Dec 2011
- "“Kids for cash” judge sentenced to 28 years in prison", Global Post, 11 Aug 2011
- "Ciavarella Found Guilty on 12 of 39 Counts", Times Leader, 19 February 2011
- "Ex-jurists plea, still free", Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Times Leader, 16 Sep 2011
- "Ex-US judge pleads guilty to child prison scam", BBC News, 23 Jul 2010
- "Mericle pleads guilty in kids-for-cash scandal", Dave Janoski, Citizens Voice, 2 Sep 2009
- "Judges withdraw guilty pleas, Terrie Morgan-Besecker", Times Leader, 25 Aug 2009
- "Plea Agreement by 2 Judges Is Rejected in Pennsylvania", Ian Urbina, New York Times, 31 Jul 2009
- "Powell pleads guilty", Michael Sisak, Times Tribune, 1 Jul 2009

- Juvenile Law Center [counsel for victims]: Luzerne Kids-For-Cash Scandal (includes links to legal documents for class action)

- [PDF] USA v Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 9 Sep 2009 [Indictment]
- [PDF] USA v Robert K.Mericle, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 9 June 2009, 31 Jul 2009 [Plea agreement]
- [PDF] USA v Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 30 Jul 2009 [Memorandum and Order]
- [PDF] USA v Robert J.Powell, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 9 Jun 2009 [Information]
- [PDF] USA v Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella, US District Court for Middle District of Pennsylvania, 26 Jan 2009 [Information]

Article
19 December 2013

[PDF] Issue 7: Quarterly Bulletin on Business & Children - Dec 2013

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

The purpose of this e-bulletin is to help keep everyone working in the field of business & children's rights informed about recent key developments and forthcoming initiatives. [Includes contributions in English, French & Spanish from: UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Global Compact, UNICEF, Child Labour Platform, Global Child Forum (formerly World Child & Youth Forum), Bank Information Center, CCR CSR - Center for Child Rights, Children and Business Network in Nigeria, Harvard FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, International Institute for the Rights of the Child, Plan Internacional Ecuador, ONG Raíces (Chile), Asociación Chilena pro Naciones Unidas, Defence for Children International - Costa Rica, Global March Against Child Labour. Refers to companies including: Abbott, adidas, Aviva, BHP Billiton, Body Shop (part of L'Oréal), Boliden, Chevron, Daewoo Intl. (part of POSCO), FM Shabab, GM Uzbekistan, Google, HSBC, Indorama, Kuoni, Microsoft, Shurtanneftegaz, Telefónica Movistar Colombia, Toys R Us, Trustbank]

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Article
18 October 2013

$2.5M Settlement in Pennsylvania ‘Kids for Cash’ Scandal

Author: Associated Press

Three companies behind private juvenile detention and treatment facilities at the heart of a “kids for cash” juvenile justice scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania have settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. The settlement involves claims brought by thousands of juveniles against PA Child Care, Western PA Child Care and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp. It was granted preliminary approval in federal court. Two former Luzerne County judges are serving lengthy prison terms in connection with the scandal. Prosecutors say juveniles were locked away in the facilities, often for minor offenses, by judges who took illegal payments from the facilities’ builder and co-owner.

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Article
19 September 2013

[PDF] Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin – Issue 10, Sep 2013

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Welcome to the 10th issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. To assist all those following corporate legal accountability issues, we send this bulletin to highlight key developments, new cases profiled on our site, updates to existing profiles, and other news. Our Corporate Legal Accountability Portal is an online information hub providing resources for non-lawyers as well as lawyers – including victims, advocates, NGOs, businesspeople, lawyers bringing lawsuits against companies and lawyers defending companies. The portal provides impartial, concise information about lawsuits against companies in which human rights abuses are alleged – its aim is to demystify these lawsuits. Each case profile includes materials from both the plaintiffs and defendants, to the extent they are available…This bulletin is now available in Spanish and French. [Refers to African Barrick Gold, Alstom, BP, CACI, Chevron, Coca-Cola, COMILOG (part of ERAMET), Daimler, Danzer, Dow Chemical, Drummond, ERAMET, Ford, HudBay Minerals, IBM, KBR, Ledesma, Mercedes-Benz (part of Daimler), Monterrico Metals, Nestlé, PA Child Care, Qosmos, Rio Tinto, Shell, Sinter Metal, SNCF, Texaco (part of Chevron), Thomson Safaris, Total, Union Carbide (part of Dow), Vedanta Resources, Veolia (part of Veolia Environnement), Veolia Environnement, Walmart]

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Article
24 May 2013

Federal appeals court upholds most 'kids for cash' convictions [USA]

Author: AP

All but one of the convictions of a former county judge in the "kids for cash" juvenile justice scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania were upheld Friday by a federal appeals court...At the heart of the case was Ciavarella's involvement with privately run juvenile detention centers and allegations that as a juvenile judge he sent children to the centers so that he could make money...With the criminal investigation, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out about 4,000 juvenile convictions in cases handled by Ciavarella. And in December, a federal judge approved a nearly $18 million settlement for claims from about 1,600 juveniles that they were wrongfully incarcerated by judges.

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Article
15 May 2013

Kids-for-cash lawsuits combined into class-action case by federal judge [USA]

Author: Times-Tribune [USA]

A federal judge Tuesday combined a series of civil lawsuits filed in the wake of the Luzerne County juvenile justice scandal into a unified class-action case. Senior U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo's decision cleared a path for resolving the cases, which have languished in the federal court system for more than four years…The civil-rights claims seek damages from former judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan, who are serving lengthy sentences for racketeering; PA Child Care LLC, Western PA Child Care LLC and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp., which own and operate the centers in Pittston Twp. and Butler County, and the former co-owner of those companies, Robert J. Powell, a Drums attorney who paid the judges $770,000.

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Article
3 May 2013

Pennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella Sentenced To 28 Years In Prison For Selling Children [USA]

Author: Emily Smith, Opposing Views [USA]

Pennsylvania judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has been sentenced to almost three decades in jail after conspiring with private prisons to trade kids for cash. In the private prison industry, longer sentences earn more money from the state. Since 2003, Ciavarella received millions of dollars in bribes for condemning minors to maximum prison sentences…Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom manner, was convicted of racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud, and tax evasion. He was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution…[Refers to PA Child Care, Western PA Child Care]

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Article
29 October 2012

[PDF] Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin - Issue 7

Author: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

[Full text of October 2012 issue of the Corporate Legal Accountability Quarterly Bulletin. Refers to lawsuits against adidas, Amesys (part of Bull), Anadarko, Anglo Platinum (part of Anglo American), Areva, Blackwater, BP, CACI, Cameron International, Chevron, Copper Mesa Mining, Curacao Drydock, DynCorp, Esmor Correctional Services (part of Correctional Services Corporation), Ford, Global Horizons, Halliburton, L-3, PA Child Care, Paladin, Shell, SNCF, Texaco (part of Chevron), Transocean.]

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