According to the civil suit filed on 7 March 2009, the "Kids for Cash" judges, Mark Ciavarella and Mike Conahan, included their wives as a part of their for-profit juvenile detention center scheme. The two women, Cindy Ciavarella and Barbara Conahan, became principal owners of a "shell" company called Pinnacle Group that is known to have received $1 million in one day, on 15 July 2005, from Robert Mericle's company, Mericle Construction, the group that built the youth detention centers. Officials found that Pinnacle Group actually has record of several payments received, but are shown as rental fees and lease charges; although only the 15 July, $1 million payment has been made public.
To recall, the Michael J. Cefalo & Associates lawsuit was filed as a class action suit on behalf of one Florence Wallace. Her 14-year-old daughter, known to the court as "B.W.," to protect her anonymity, was convicted of making terroristic threats on MySpace. While most parents would agree that her behavior on the website was less than reputable, it certainly did not warrant time in a youth detention facility, especially considering B.W. has no prior offenses.
B.W. and her mother were told before her hearing that she would face a maximum of up to six months of probation. Judge Ciavarella also advised her that if she attempted to have a lawyer represent her in court, she would be sentenced to four years in juvenile detention. When Florence Wallace attempted to make a statement during the court proceedings, Ciavarella told her to "shut up or be held in contempt." Once convicted, Florence's daughter was removed from the courtroom, cuffed hand and foot. B.W., whose mother told the court of her daughter's pre-existing heart condition, was taken to Camp Adams without even a physician's screening.
The Wallace's suit is calling for $150,000 in punitive damages and an unspecified amount in legal fees.