Saturday, February 19, 2011
Did The Jury Send The Wrong Message In Ciavarella's Conviction?
For the Ciavarella family and Attorney Al Flora to claim "victory" was the ultimate slap of hypocrisy and flamboyant attitude displayed during the entire trial. His smirks, his smiles, and general demeanor where disgusting to see regardless of what he thinks he did or did not do. In the eyes of the public taking money, regardless of the charges, is something a JUDGE does not do. It doesn't just create distrust of the individual, it nutures and breeds distrust of the entire system and those working in it. Defense Attorney Al Flora's claim of "victory" will most likely be short lived when the civil cases are adjudicated.
Onto the jury. Today I read the breakdown chart in the Citizen's Voice. All of the charges involving actually money paid to Ciavarella were found NOT GUILTY. Their finding sends the wrong message to the public, but more importantly to public officials.
Mark Ciavarella can play that part that he was "duped" and "dragged into" this scheme by Robert Powell. However, according to his testimony he was up to his eyeballs in debt and saw an easy way out of the self proclaimed, excessive spending by himself and his family. He tried to keep up with the Jones but was no match.
I agree with their assertions that Ciavarella didn't "extort" money from Powell. It was an exclusive club where all shared in the profits. Attorney Al Flora exorted that Mark Ciavarella" never took a kickback, never took a bribe..." Well, Al, he did take over a million dollars, what was it a donation?
Taking money as a sitting Judge in the manner described in this matter has to be a crime of some sort, at least a kickback. Ciavvarella, in that video, stated he never took a kickback from Robert Mericle. Then why did he go to pains to try to hide it? If it wasn't a problem why didn't he claim it on his income taxes?
No one made the claim that each child sentenced resulted in a direct payment to Ciavarella. But to ignore the power of a judge to sentence enough children to a facility so that its revenue pays the bills is ludicrous. And to me, regardless of how the Ciavarellas feel, it was a kids for cash scheme- sentence the kids to keep the facility afloat and make money.
The jury found Ciavarella guilty of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, consipracy to defraud the United States, and filing false tax returns. While those verdicts are enough to send Mark Ciavarella away for 13 to 15 years, it doesn't square up with the public.