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Court upholds most 'kids for cash' judge's convictions

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 9:54 p.m.

HARRISBURG — 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.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected nearly all the arguments made by attorneys for Mark Ciavarella, who is serving a 28-year sentence for racketeering, fraud, conspiracy and other offenses.

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 he could make money.

The panel threw out one count of honest services mail fraud, saying the statute of limitations had expired, and sent the case back to the district court for resentencing.

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.

Judge Julio Fuentes also was critical of the trial judge, U.S. Middle District Judge Edwin Kosik, for personally writing seven letters in response to letters he received about the case.

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