Archive for the ‘Racketeering’ Category

Disgraced Conahan in default for ignoring lawsuit

October 5, 2013

Even behind bars, disgraced former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan is still dodging the law.

Conahan, locked away in federal prison, has ignored a civil lawsuit filed against him in connection with the kids-for-cash judicial scandal, federal court officials said Thursday.

The acting clerk for U.S. District Court in Scranton on Thursday ruled Conahan is in default for “failure to answer, plead, or otherwise defend against the complaint.”

Conahan is a defendant in a class-action civil rights lawsuit on behalf of thousands of juveniles who appeared in court before his colleague, former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. Both men are serving lengthy prison sentences for accepting kickbacks for placed juveniles in two for-profit detention centers. The default opens Conahan to damages when the case is finally resolved in federal court.

The suit also seeks damages from Ciavarella, PA Child Care LLC, Western PA Child Care LLC and Mid-Atlantic Youth Services Corp., which own and operate the centers in Pittston Township and Butler County, and the former co-owner of those companies, Robert J. Powell, a Drums attorney who paid the judges $770,000.

Wealthy developer Robert K. Mericle, who paid $2.1 million to Conahan and Ciavarella, who placed juveniles in two for-profit detention centers built by his construction firm, is no longer a defendant in the lawsuits. He won court approval last year for a $17.75 million settlement with more than 1,000 former offenders who appeared in the county juvenile court in 2004-2008. After the suit was initially filed, Conahan asked a court to dismiss the suit on the basis of “judicial and legislative immunity.” Since a federal judge denied the request, Conahan has not responded to the suit, court documents filed Thursday said.

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Disgraced Conahan in default for ignoring lawsuit

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Ex-District Judge Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

September 22, 2013

BROWNSVILLE – A judge sentenced former district judge Abel Limas to six years in prison for one count of racketeering. Limas was also ordered to forfeit $257,000 in property he owns and pay more than $6 million in restitution.

Limas was the focus of a corruption case at the Cameron County courthouse. He pleaded guilty more than two years ago and has testified in four trials related to the case.

The ex-judge confessed to accepting bribes for favorable court rulings. He also admitted to taking more than $250,000 from four attorneys.

In court today, his defense attorney said Limas was rehabilitated and did everything asked of him. Limas apologized for embarrassing the judiciary system and his family.

He left the courthouse without any comment about his sentence.

Former Cameron County district attorney Yolando De Leon called the outcome “a good recognition of the damage done to many, many people, many institutions.”

But Limas’ attorney Chip Lews said, “I think it’s exorbitant. Given all the assistance Abel Limas gave the federal government, one would expect a lighter sentence.”

The former judge will report to federal prison in a couple of months. Until then, he is a free man.

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Ex-District Judge Sentenced to 6 Years in Prison

Ciavarella Seeking New Trial in "Kids-for-Cash" Scandal

November 18, 2012

Layers of judicial reflection stacked like Descartes’ wax on the bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on Wednesday.

The court was faced with an odd situation, Judge Marjorie O. Rendell noted, saying it’s “judges judging judges who are judging judges.”

Former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. is arguing that his convictions related to the bribes he took to place youthful offenders in a privately-owned juvenile detention center in the “kids-for-cash” scandal should be set aside because U.S. District Judge Edwin Kosik of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, who presided over his trial, had shown bias against him.

Ciavarella focused primarily on Kosik’s responses to letters from citizens expressing outrage at the allegations and a newspaper article that attributed derisive quotes about Ciavarella’s alleged conduct to Kosik. Kosik denied talking to the reporter, according to court papers.

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Ciavarella Seeks New Trial in “Kids-for-Cash” Scandal

LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE HOLLY FUJIE ACCUSED OF MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS

October 31, 2012

Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia reveal that Holly Fujie of Los Angeles allegedly engaged in predicate acts of racketeering through and by means of money laundering, mail and bank fraud, as well as conversion of funds.

A former partner of Los Angeles-based Buchalter Nemer — who California Governor Jerry Brown appointed to the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench under questionable circumstances involving his cousin, former California Public Utility Commisioner Geoff Brown — is accused in federal court of committing myriad financial crimes and acts of fraud.

The lawsuit, filed as a civil-racketeering action by Marina Del Rey-based community activist Daniel Dydzak, also names as a defendant Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles and Eric George — the son of the controversial former chief justice of California, Ronald George.

Both Holly Fujie and Eric George were directors of Bet Tzedek, an entity which obtained millions of dollars from the various trusts funds maintained and operated by the State Bar of California, as well as funds from the California Bar Foundation, where Holly Fujie presently serves as the vice-president.

Both the State Bar of California and the California Bar Foundation are under the direct control of the California Supreme Court.

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LOS ANGELES COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE HOLLY FUJIE ACCUSED OF MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS

The Ponzi Thief Who Picked Judges

December 11, 2011

Where do judges come from?

From Marybeth Feiss, of course.

Feiss, according to federal investigators, ran the fraudulent political contribution scheme that enabled her bombastic, absurdly grandiose, insanely ostentatious Ponzi thief of a boss, among other outrages, to buy himself a seat on the state judicial nominating committee.

Feiss, 42, was charged last week with bundling hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from 2006 through 2009 at the behest of the infamous scammer Scott Rothstein. Some $3 million was funneled to local, state and federal candidates and political parties, much of it illegally, through lawyers and employees (and their spouses) of his now-defunct Las Olas Boulevard law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler.

The criminal complaint, filed Thursday (exactly two years after the feds arrested Rothstein), states: “It was the object of the conspiracy that Rothstein and his co-conspirators, including Feiss, aimed to dramatically increase the political influence and power of RRA and become one of the most powerful law firms in the country by utilizing some of the attorneys and administrative personnel of RRA and other persons associated with RRA to unlawfully make prohibited political contributions.” Rothstein reimbursed his minions for the contributions, much of it in the guise of bonuses.

John Gillies, the head of the FBI office in South Florida, put it a bit more succinctly. With Feiss, his administrative assistant, doing what assistants do, Gillies said, “Rothstein tried to buy political influence with the money he stole from the Ponzi scheme to contribute millions of dollars to political campaigns.”

But Rothstein didn’t just try to buy political influence. He outright bought it.

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The Ponzi Thief Who Picked Judges

Scott Rothstein’s Belongings Headed to Auction

October 3, 2011

Soon you will be able to get your hands on some fancy merchandise once owned by convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein and his wife Kim.

Friday, we got a first look at the more than 200 items items up for auction by the bank. They include custom-made suits, autographed sports memorabilia, luxurious home furnishings and wide-screen TVs.

The auction is being held by order of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and in hopes of bringing victims some compensation for the millions they lost and the Rothsteins spent.

An online auction will be held between October 6 and 13 and a live auction on October 15 at the Embassy Suites in Boca Raton. Registration will begin at 8 a.m.

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Scott Rothstein’s Spoils Head to Auction Block in Boca Raton

Michael T. Conahan Could be Headed to Cushy Prison

October 1, 2011

If the U.S. Bureau of Prisons takes the advice of the judge who sentenced Michael T. Conahan on Friday, Conahan will serve his time in a minimum-security prison camp in the Florida Panhandle that was ranked one of the nation’s 10 “cushiest” federal prisons by Forbes Magazine in 2009.

The Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola is adjacent to the Pensacola Naval Air Station and inmates have prime employment and recreation opportunities on the base that are not available in most federal lockups, the magazine concluded.

U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik recommended the prison camp at the request of the defense so that Conahan could be near members of his family. Conahan’s wife, Barbara, purchased a home in Delray Beach, Fla., in June, according to records in Palm Beach County, Fla.

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Conahan Could Be Headed to Cushy Prison

Former Judge Michael T. Conahan Gets 17.5 Years!

September 27, 2011

On Friday, September 23, 2011, former Luzerne County President Judge Michael T. Conahan, 59, was sentenced by Federal Middle District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik to 210 months, or 17.5 years, in federal prison for his part in the Luzerne County judicial scandal. Conahan pled guilty to his crimes and received a sentence of almost 10 years less than co-Defendant, former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella.

Kosik additionally ordered Conahan to pay more than $874,000 in restitution, along with other fines. Judge Kosik also recommended that Conahan be sent to a prison in Delray Beach, Florida “not for convenience” but so that his family can be in close proximity

Before the sentence was handed down, Conahan sat as he read a prepared statement accepting responsibility for his actions and apologizing to all of those he harmed. He told the court, “…the system was not corrupt. I was corrupt.”

Source:
Former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan Sentenced to 17.5 Years in Prison

Michael T. Conahan’s Statement to the Court

September 27, 2011

Thank you, your honor. Good morning.

Your honor, this has been a long road for me. It has been difficult, embarrassing, damaged my reputation beyond repair. I’ve lost everything that I worked for my entire life, and I’m about to go to prison.

Your honor, I deserve these consequences because of what I’ve done.

First, please allow me to apologize to the children and the families of the children that appeared in juvenile court in Luzerne County.

You are the vulnerable people of our society and are entitled to have decisions based upon what is in your best interests. I let you down the most. My actions undermined your faith in the system and contributed to the great difficulty in your lives.

I was the president judge, I owed you better. I’m grateful that the Supreme Court overturned your findings of delinquency and expunged your records. I am sorry you were victimized.

I apologize to the staff and the probation department of the juvenile court. I was the president judge and I should have let you do better things for those juveniles. I let you down. You deserved better from me.

To all of those people who lost faith in the juvenile justice system, I ask that you please keep in mind the system was not corrupt, I was corrupt.

The system has integrity, I did not perform my duties the way I should have, and I do not have integrity.

I apologize to the citizens of Luzerne County because your faith in government has been shaken, as a result of the dark cloud I placed over all of us. I let you down personally and professionally.

I hope that both the prosecutions of public officials and public officials like me accepting responsibility and admitting their criminal actions will restore your faith in government.

Your honor, Luzerne County is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. The county and its government were not corrupt, I was corrupt.

I also apologize to the legal community and the judiciary. I’ve tarnished the reputation and trust that people have placed in lawyers and in the judiciary.

I think I did some good as a judge, however, I lost my way, and any good I have done over the years will forever be overshadowed by my criminal acts.

The public has the right to expect that lawyers act with integrity at all times. As a lawyer, I failed.

The public has a right to expect that the judiciary is built upon the foundation of upholding truth and honesty. As a judge, I failed.

The judicial system was not bad or corrupt, your honor, I was corrupt.

Your Honor, I lost my way and violated my oath and broke the law.

Over the past two years, I’ve come to understand these facts. I worked long and hard to try and understand all the wrong that I’ve done and why I did it and to try and understand how I can atone for it.

Throughout this process, my family and close friends never left my side. They have given me the love and support I needed so that I could step back and examine my life and my conduct.

I have a lot of time to think about what I did. My failures and this process helped me to look at myself, and I did not like what I saw. I disappointed and hurt so many people.

I apologize to my family and friends for putting them through all of this.

I apologize to the public for putting them through all of this.

I realize that mere words cannot change the pain that so many people are feeling, but I hope it’s a beginning, and I’m sorry.

What I did was wrong, what I did damaged a great many people, and I hope that going forward, the citizens, the public, and most importantly, the children of Luzerne County can begin to heal and that their faith in the legal system, in government and the Judiciary can be restored.

From my part, I will work the rest of my life to atone for what I’ve done.

Thank you.

Source:
Michael T. Conahan’s Statement to the Court

TX Lawyer Charged for Paying Judge for Ruling

August 31, 2011

An Austin attorney has been federally indicted concerning his alleged role in a Texas court corruption scheme in which a former state district judge and two other lawyers have already taken pleas.

Marc Garrett Rosenthal, 49, is accused in a 13-count indictment unsealed yesterday of paying ex-Judge Abel Corral Limas for favorable rulings, as well as bribing witnesses, conspiring to file state and federal personal injury cases relying on false testimony and directing others to pay nonlawyers for referrals of cases to his firm, according to the Associated Press.

Rosenthal faces charges of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, witness-tampering and fraud charges, among others, reports the Brownsville Herald. (The American-Statesman provides a full rundown.)

The Herald says Rosenthal is also accused of arranging for others to manipulate the Cameron County District Court case assignment system, so that cases went to the courts they preferred.

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Another Attorney Charged in Racketeering Case Allegedly Paid Texas Judge for Ruling