Juveniles Sentenced by Judge Ciavarella Shocked by New Court Ruling

LUZERNE COUNTY -- Some of the people sent to jail by former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella more than a decade ago are outraged that he could possibly get years knocked off his sentence.

A federal judge on Monday ordered a new trial for the judge on three of his felony convictions.

All of those sentenced in the so-called "Kids for Cash" scandal are now in their 20s and 30s. Many of them were jolted when learning the man convicted of profiting from their convictions could be out of prison sooner than expected.

Raheem Armitage of Pittston can't forget the 10 months he spent locked up in 2006 when he was just 16.

"That's a big part of my life that I lost for something so simple I shouldn't have been put away for."

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella handed down Armitage's sentence after he says he bruised a school teacher's ankle by tossing a textbook.

But now, Armitage fears the former judge who sentenced him could be out of prison sooner than expected.

"There are a lot of kids including myself that are definitely upset," Armitage said.

Scranton defense attorney Chris Powell does not think Ciavarella will walk out of prison soon, despite the vacated convictions on three crimes.

If a jury finds Ciavarella not guilty in a retrial, or if federal prosecutors don't retry Ciavarella, Powell says a judge would likely reduce Ciavarella's base prison term from 28 to a little more than 21 years in federal prison.

"With good time and all that, he might have a sentence of 15 years, all of which is a very, very long time," Powell said.

The woman who was the face of the "Kids for Cash" crisis says that's not long enough.

Sandy Fonzo says Ciavarella should never leave federal prison. She blames her son's suicide on the months Ciavarella sent him to juvenile jail for possessing a small amount of marijuana.

"I'm outraged and disgusted because it is hard for me and the kids who live through this to put it behind them, and instead they have to relive it," said Fonzo.

"It actually made me a stronger person and a better man," Armitage said.

Raheem Armitage has a full-time job and has moved on from the time Judge Ciavarella sent him to juvenile jail.

"My parents taught me not to have any regrets, kind of embrace my failures and all things that went wrong."

Federal prosecutors have not decided if they will retry Ciavarella on the three vacated convictions.

If they do, there will be a new federal judge. Edwin Kosik, who presided at Ciavarella's trial in 2011 and sentenced him, is now 92 years old and no longer presides over court cases.

16 comments

  • Vet Check

    This disgraced judge should trade prison time for being hung for 45 minutes by his scrotum. That, in my most humble estimate, might come close to the pain and degradation that he inflicted on people for the sake of money.

    He’s been nicely segregated from the rest of the prison population because Federal inmates would LOVE to take a potshot at a Judge, don’t you know. What a terrible, terrible, EVIL organism this man is, and he needs to be made an example of. Less time? Sure, I’m down with that as long as he has to walk a gauntlet made up of the victims and families of his sordid scheme to exit the prison. Fgt.

  • Donamick

    Birds of a feather you know… Fraternal Order of the Brotherhood…
    F the public they’ll do as they damn well please!
    And right in front of your face to nothing you could do about it!

  • Lloyd Schmucatelli

    I leave for 2 weeks and come back to the same nonsense.

    Blah blah blah.

    I’m over it.

    Goodbye all!

  • warningfakenews

    One of the disadvantages we have here is that the judge obviously is well acquainted with the law and is able to manipulate even the slightest appearance of impropriety to his own advantage.

    Just the same, we should invest wisely in gaining new convictions on the charges that were vacated, and there ought to be a pursuit of compensating the taxpayers for the costs arising from the kids for cash cases. This should include assets which were transferred to family members in an attempt to avoid confiscation.

    • Pay up

      Also, all of the parties involved in this horrific scam should be forced to pay restitution to the parents of the children who were pretty much ransomed into paying for PRIVATE incarceration for their kids AFTER his jackass harshly sentenced them and sent them to the private institutions.

      There are no words to describe how horrible this is.

  • burtfan16

    No worries. If I know the people of this area and I think I do, someone’s going to do some damage to this pig no matter when he gets out. As a matter of fact, he’s probably safer in prison.

  • Puerto Rico is better than PA

    No one really cares…. It just gives the subhumans of Pennsylvania something to complain about

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