Victims Of The Victims In The Kids For Cash Scandal

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NUANGOLA -- It has been five years since something nicknamed the Kids for Cash Scandal broke in Luzerne County, ultimately sending two Luzerne County judges to federal prison for a long time.

Newswatch 16 spoke with a family whose farm was damaged by juveniles who set fire to their property but had their criminal records expunged because of what happened to the judges.

Linda Ebert and her son William say they saw their family’s dream of running a farm go up in flames. That dream burned to the ground in 2005 when the barn near Nuangola was destroyed. The fire was so large it also burned the roof off her house as well as a granary. And the blaze claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars of farm equipment stored in the barn.

“Over the years we had purchased a combine, a bailer, a corn picker. It was all in new condition because we had housed it,” Ebert said.

Police arrested two juveniles for the arson. They were sent away to a detention center by Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella and ordered to pay restitution to the Eberts.

“According to me he did everything he was supposed to. He asked them where their lawyer was.  Children and Youth said they didn’t want a lawyer because the children were going to plead guilty and they admitted that they had done it,” said Ebert.

But then after the corruption fall out sent Ciavarella and fellow Luzerne County Judge Michael Conahan to federal prison, the state supreme court vacated Ciavarella’s rulings against more than 6,000 juveniles.

That included the two in Ebert’s case who then no longer owed her restitution. Those 6,000 juveniles are being compensated for being detained.

“Supreme court says ‘oh, we’re going to throw everything out and now the kids get a settlement.’ I lost a barn, my family lost a barn.  We lost something that we loved to do and they’re getting paid to burn down a barn,” said William Ebert.

The Eberts received $6,000 in state restitution and got a $10,000 settlement from the juveniles’ families.  Some of that money was used to pay legal bills. They say the rest doesn't come close to replacing what was lost.

“$400,000 for a brand new combine or $200,000 for a tractor or bailers or all these other implements,” said William Ebert.

Still, Linda and her family have continued to slowly put their dream back together and are attempting to farm their land.


  • Babylon nomore

    They still up to their old devils tricks. Breaking up families because they can for the love of money. When these kids in families beating or molested by a stranger. All cause cys were full of greed lusting over that dollar.tricking out children for almighty dollar..shame. you have no soul.

  • jhklh

    ALL children require an attorney EVEN if admitting guilt children and youth has ZERO say in “if” they get a lawyer, its supposed to be automatic, and these judges where supposed to protect that. So yes, because I want my children’s freedom protected, the records should be expunged. let us also not forget.. they are children, not adults.

  • Debbie

    This is more fallout from the corruption. It is the fault of the judges that all of their decisions have been called into question because of their greed. The anger here is misdirected. It is the judges (and all of the others involved in the corruption that runs through this county) who should pay restitution to these people.

  • Marianne

    I feel bad for these people. It’s about time we heard the other side to this story. Those kids were in juvie for a reason; they broke the law in one form or another. Their sentences may have been unfair or unjust but it’s wrong to let them off free and clear while people like this are the real victims. My heart goes out to these people.

  • S. Matt

    Michael M.- Surely you’re not suggesting that these people deserved to have their property destroyed because it wasn’t insured? Insured or not it’s a moot point because it was purposely destroyed by juvenile delinquents bent on destruction, not by a foreseeable accident or case of negligence. Those kids are lucky they didn’t kill someone with their actions. Fire fighters and first responders came to out the fire out. They could’ve been hurt or killed too. It could’ve easily happened. Would an insurance company having to pay for this equipment have made this whole situation OK? It’s still money that is being spent to replace items someone else destroyed. It’s still an insurance claim that could cause the premiums of the victims and others in the area to rise. These kids destroyed property and showed a complete disregard for the welfare and lives of others. They deserve to be punished for that.

  • Larry Vanchure Vanchieri

    I was a juvenile delinquent ,,,, back in the 70’s,, they were the greatest times I ever can remember…. the damage and destruction we caused,,,mostly to the snooty, and whining neighbors,,, you know the kind… God has a way of leveling the playing fields…


      Now I’d like to see obama walk out of the white house with amnesia, fall and hit his head on the concrete. Then be brought to the hospital were he can get billed and have the IRS penalize him for not having obamacare.

  • Jill Stackhouse

    Each case should have been looked at by a panel that would know if the punishment fit the crime. The kids that were harmed by these judges actions should be compensated, the kids that deserved what they got no way.

    • Helen

      Agreed! I know people who definitely did not deserve the time they spent, and they were paid accordingly.. but then I also know people who spent quite a bit of time, for quite a bit of crime, and now have a nice chunk of change to invest back into illegal activities.

  • disgusted

    Same here broke into my house stole, kidnapped my cat and slit him and left him for dead. His record is now expunged. Where is the justice?3

  • Amos Leon

    I can see where the frustrations is here with this case. My question is can this family not go after these two judges to compensate them for their loss?

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