108 A.3d 983 (Pa.Ct.Jud.Disc. 2014), 7 JD 11, In re Ciavarella

Docket Nº:7 JD 11
Citation:108 A.3d 983
Opinion Judge:PANELLA, JUDGE
Party Name:IN RE: Mark A. Ciavarella, Former Judge Court of Common Pleas Luzerne County
Judge Panel:BEFORE: Honorable John R. Cellucci, P.J., Honorable Timothy F. McCune, Honorable Robert J. Colville, Honorable Cannella Mullen, Honorable Jack A. Panella, Honorable Charles A. Clement, Jr. PER CURIAM
Case Date:October 07, 2014
Court:Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania
 
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108 A.3d 983 (Pa.Ct.Jud.Disc. 2014)

IN RE: Mark A. Ciavarella, Former Judge Court of Common Pleas Luzerne County

No. 7 JD 11

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Court of Judicial Discipline

October 7, 2014

BEFORE: Honorable John R. Cellucci, P.J., Honorable Timothy F. McCune, Honorable Robert J. Colville, Honorable Cannella Mullen, Honorable Jack A. Panella, Honorable Charles A. Clement, Jr.

OPINION

PANELLA, JUDGE

I. INTRODUCTION

The Judicial Conduct Board (" Board" ) filed a Complaint with this Court on December 21, 2011, against Former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella (" Respondent" ). The Complaint is based on Respondent's conduct and felony convictions for participating in a criminal conspiracy with Former Judge Michael Conahan while the two served as judges of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas. Among other

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criminal acts, they profited by taking bribes, kickbacks, extortionate payments, and other types of payoffs, and then attempted, by way of a number of schemes, to hide their illegal activities. The Board has charged that Respondent's conduct and multiple felony convictions subject him to discipline under Article V, § 18(d)(1) of the Pennsylvania Constitution, This conduct and the convictions occasioned by it constitute:

1. convictions of felonies, a violation of Article V, § 18(d)(1)1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution;

2. convictions of infamous crimes, a violation of Article V, § 18(d)(1) of the Pennsylvania Constitution; 3. conduct which brings the judicial office into disrepute, a violation of Article V, § 18(d)(1) of the Pennsylvania Constitution; 4. conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, a violation of Article V, § 18(d)(1) of the Pennsylvania Constitution; and 5. violations of Article V, § 17(b)2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution by virtue of his convictions of federal criminal statutes including, but not limited to, 18 U.S.C. § § 1961 (Racketeering), 1962(d) (Racketeering Conspiracy), 1956(h) and (Money Laundering Conspiracy).

II. FINDINGS OF FACT

1. The Judicial Conduct Board is empowered by Article V, § 18 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to file formal charges alleging ethical misconduct on the part of judges, justices or magisterial district judges and to present the case in support of the formal charges before the Court of Judicial Discipline.

2. Respondent, a former trial judge, commenced service on January 1, 1996. Respondent was elected as President Judge and assumed the duties of President Judge in January 2006. He resigned from judicial service on March 16, 2009, while the federal criminal case was pending against him at U.S. v. Conahan, et al, 3:09-CR-00272-EMK-2.3

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3. On September 9, 2009, Respondent was indicted by a federal grand jury in the case of U.S. v. Conahan, et al, 3:09-CR-00272-EMK-2, in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. On September 29, 2010, a superseding Indictment was returned against the Respondent, which charged Respondent with 39 offenses.4

4. On February 18, 2011, at the conclusion of the jury trial which had commenced on February 7, 2011, the jury returned a verdict of guilty against the Respondent for the following offenses:5

Count 1s: Racketeering, in violation of Title 18 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 1961. By conviction on this Count, the Jury found that Mr. Ciavarella and his criminal confederates abused their positions within the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County to enrich themselves by specific acts of taking bribes, kickbacks, extortionate payments and other things of value from individuals and organizations doing business with the Court of Common Pleas and that they engaged in a number of schemes to hide their illegal activities.

Count 2s: Racketeering Conspiracy, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d). By conviction on this Count, the jury found that Mr. Ciavarella and his criminal confederates, as persons employed by or associated with the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, conducted and participated in the conduct of the affairs of the Court of Common Pleas through a pattern of racketeering activity by committing the acts specified in Count 1. Count 7s: Honest Services Mail Fraud, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § § 1341, 1346 and 2...

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