Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Conahan and Ciavarella Plead Not Guilty

On the morning of Tuesday, September 15, 2009, former Luzerne County Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan appeared in federal court for the first time since a grand jury hit them with a 48-count indictment last week.

To review a copy of the indictment, click on the title to this post.

Ciavarella, 59, and Conahan, 57, were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Blewitt on charges including racketeering, bribery, extortion and money laundering. Both judges pleaded not guilty.

Federal prosecutors requested new bail conditions including electronic monitoring for the judges, claiming there was evidence they tried to protect assets that could be seized in the case and that the new charges in the indictment carried sentences of nearly 600 years as opposed to the 25 years the judges faced on the original charges.

Defense attorneys argued the government was aware of all the judges’ assets and any transfers they might have made to family members, so those assets were available in the event of forfeiture. It was also argued that the judges had obeyed all previous conditions.

In the end, Federal Magistrate Judge Blewitt decided to retain the current bail conditions set in February by U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik. More specifically, the former Judges were allowed to remain free on bail backed by the $700,000 Florida condominium owned by their wives. The former Judges were also restricted to traveling only within Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Both judges declined comment as they left the courtroom.

Information for this post was gathered from an online Citizen's Voice article found at http://www.citizensvoice.com/conahan_ciavarella_plead_not_guilty_to_new_charges.

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