Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Questions remain in "Kids for Cash" case

The "Kids for Cash" judges, Mark Ciavarella and Mike Conahan, will be sentenced in the next few months according to a 13 February report. It has been said that they may each face a term of more than seven years in a federal penitentiary. If that is the case, odds are they will be released in less than four years.  

Thus far, the civil suit only alleges racketeering and conspiracy, but no charges have yet been filed against co-owners of PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care, Greg Zappala and Robert Powell. Nor have charges been filed against the builder, Robert Mericle, or the judges' wives, Cindy Ciavarella and Barbara Conahan. It remains unclear if and when those charges are to be filed, but the inclusive record of payments and deals made and received by and from the accused and all parties involved should warrant jail time for all.    

An 11 February audit shows over $530,000 in what are being called "unsupported administrative fees" paid to the principals/owners of PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care, Robert Powell and Gregory Zappala, as well as over $200,000 in other payments for "services rendered."           

Robert Powell's lawyer, attorney Mark Sheppard, argues that Powell is actually the victim of an extortion scheme and is quoted as telling officials that his client has "never solicited a nickel from these judges." The prosecution says that while that may be the case, Powell did in fact solicit the judges' illegal business practices.


Many questions remain in this case. Prosecutors are discouraged by the quickness of the plea bargain and victims and their parents would like to know more about their restitution. Indeed, many more must have been involved and the prosecution feels that is the reason for the lack of press this case has received, as well why there are so many questions still unanswered. 

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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