The Citizen's Voice pulbished an article by Dave Janoski reporting that Robert Mericle, developer involved in the construction of PA ChildCare, hired a law firm from Philadelphia with a reputation for international law to represent himself and his company in two civil rights lawsuits.
Mericle’s Plains Township-based company, Mericle Construction Inc., was the source of nearly half of the $2.6 million in kickbacks paid to two Luzerne County judges who helped secure county contracts for juvenile detention centers Mericle built in Pittston Township and Butler County, federal prosecutors allege.
Although he does not face criminal charges, Mericle and his company have much at stake in the civil-rights claims filed by more than 175 former defendants in the county’s juvenile court. The suits seek millions in damages from Mericle, the judges, and other individuals and companies implicated in the federal case on the grounds that the juveniles were wrongly imprisoned and denied legal representation.
Mericle, 46, has retained Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, which has 1,400 lawyers in 22 offices in the United States and abroad and claims to represent more than 50 of the Fortune 100 companies.
This week, four attorneys from the firm asked U.S. District Judge A. Richard Caputo for permission to represent Mericle and his company in two of three suits. Caputo’s approval is required because the attorneys normally don’t practice in the U.S. Middle District, which includes Luzerne, Lackawanna and 31 other Pennsylvania counties. Caputo has jurisdiction over all three kids-for-cash cases. The third case has not progressed to the point where defense attorneys have filed notice with the court that they have been retained in the case.
Mericle is featured in the $2.6 Million Money Trail graphic authored by Gary Visgaitis of the Times Leader. It is alleged that over $1.15 million was wired transferred through Mericle Construction to the Pinnacle Group LLC linked to Ciavarella and Conahan. Again, he has not been charged with any crime.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP has some interesting analysis of the 2009 Stimulus package on their site.