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'Kids for Cash' Judge Sentenced to 28 Years

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 11, 2011 3:01 PM

Things have come full circle for Mark Ciavarella, a Pennsylvania state judge convicted in February for his involvement in a juvenile court scheme that has the media referring to him as the "'Kids for Cash" judge."

Sentenced to 28 years for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments in exchange for sending innocent and low-level juvenile defendants to a private detention center, the 59-year-old will be spending what is likely to be the rest of his life in jail.

Though Ciavarella was acquitted on charges of bribery and extortion, he was still convicted of racketeering, conspiracy, fraud, and filing false tax returns.

His attorney pointed to the widespread media attention and the resultant shame as a reason to issue a short sentence. But given his blatant disregard for the constitutional rights of juveniles, it's not that surprising that the sentencing judge decided to issue Mark Ciavarella a harsher punishment.

His conduct, along with his co-conspirator Judge Michael Conahan (he pled guilty and is awaiting sentencing), forced Pennsylvania's highest court to overturn nearly 4,000 juvenile convictions, according to MSNBC.

A review showed that the pair had no regard for fairness, refusing counsel and the right to enter a plea.

This fiasco is still not over for the "Kids for Cash" judge.

Sentenced as he may be, he must now defend against a class action lawsuit spearheaded by the mother of one of his victims who became so depressed after a wrongful convicted changed his life's plans, that he committed suicide.

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