Mother confronts ex-judge at courthouse doorsStaff ReportPublished: February 18, 2011
Photo Gallery: Mother confronts ex-judge
Lightbox link Lightbox link Lightbox link Sandy Fonzo raced from Kingston to Scranton to face former Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. as he stepped out of the federal courthouse after being convicted of 12 criminal charges. She yelled at him as he walked out this afternoon, free until sentencing.
Her son, one of the juveniles committed by the kids-for-cash former judge, committed suicide last year.
Some passersby yelled at Ciavarella as he made his way through the crowd of media into a waiting car. He was released by U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik into the custody of his daughter.
Ciavarella must forfeit $997,600, the amount he received in a kickback from developer Robert K. Mericle for his involvement with for-profit juvenile detention center Pennsylvania Child Care. He faces a minimum of 12 years and 7 months to 15 years and 9 months and a maximum of 157 years.
Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts sent a press release saying the verdict today is an example of how the court system can, and did, go wrong.
“Courthouses belong to the people. Judges, court staff, and attorneys are there to serve the system, not to manipulate it for personal gain," Executive Director Lynn A. Marks said.
Father of suicidal man in kids-for-cash case: 'I basically framed him'
WILKES-BARRE - Sandy Fonzo, the aggrieved and grieving mother who confronted Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. outside a federal courthouse last week after his conviction in the kids-for-cash case, blames her son's suicide on the former Luzerne County Juvenile Court judge, who jailed her son at 17.
Her son's father, Edward R. Kenzakoski Jr., at least in part, blames himself.
"I basically framed him with my buddies," Mr. Kenzakoski said Tuesday.
Mr. Kenzakoski, a 44-year-old Bear Creek Twp. man employed in construction, said he planted drug paraphernalia in his son's truck about seven years ago, leading to his initial appearance in juvenile court. Mr. Fonzo says her son's assignment to a juvenile camp on the paraphernalia charge started him on a tortured path through the juvenile and adult court systems that culminated in his suicide in June.
Mr. Kenzakoski said he had two friends familiar with the justice system who told him an appearance in juvenile court might straighten his son out.
"They helped me out because he was getting in with the wrong crowd. He was out drinking with the other kids," Mr. Kenzakoski said of his son, Edward R. Kenzakoski III, who was an accomplished high-school wrestler in the 189-pound weight class as a junior.
Mr. Kenzakoski said he feared his son would abandon wrestling in his senior year.
"I wanted him to stop and think about his career," the elder Mr. Kenzakoski said. He declined to identify the friends who advised him to report to police that there was paraphernalia in the truck.
"They said, "Don't worry, Ciavarella's a good man. He'll just scare him."
But Mr. Ciavarella ordered the younger Mr. Kenzakoski held for 30 days in the PA Child Care juvenile detention center in Pittston Twp. The for-profit facility hadreplaced an aging county-owned center, which was closed at Mr. Ciavarella's urging. Mr. Ciavarella was found guilty of racketeering last week for accepting nearly $1 million in illegal payments from the builder of the for-profit facility.
After the stay in PA Child Care, Mr. Kenzakoski's son was sent for several months to a wilderness camp near Shamokin, where, the young man's mother alleges, he was mixed in with gang members and juveniles charged with homicide. After his release, the younger Mr. Kenzakoski spent time in another juvenile facility and in state prisons on assault charges before fatally shooting himself in June.
CIAVARELLA SENTENCED TO 28 YEARS, SURRENDERS TO U.S. MARSHALS
A defiant Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced to 28 years in prison this morning after reading a statement to the court in which he denied trading "kids for cash."
"Those three words made me the personification of evil. They made me the devil. They made me the anti-Christ. They made me toxic," Ciavarella told U.S. District Judge Edwin M. Kosik.
Ciavarella, while admitting to tax charges and fraud for taking nearly $1 million from the builder of a for-profit detention center, forcefully denied taking money from Robert J. Powell, a former co-owner of the center, arguing a jury acquitted him of taking money from Powell to sentence juveniles to the center.
"Bob Powell is a liar and self-centered individual who would do anything and say anything to protect himself," Ciavarella said in reference to Powell's testimony at the trial.
Ciavarella also lashed out at federal prosecutors, saying they continued to use the "kids for cash" phrase to describe his case, without proving it at trial.
He also apologized to his family, the people of Luzerne County and the county bench and bar.
"To all the juveniles who appeared before me, I would like to apologize for being a hypocrite and not practicing what I preached," Ciavarella said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod argued for a sentence that would send Ciavarella to prison "for the remainder of his natural life."
This guy really sickens me. Like 99.9% of people I have come across in the juvenile justice system are completely selfless dorks way nicer than me who work shitty hours for no pay just because they want to help kids get their life on track. This piece of shit set their efforts back decades.
robert c. Cordaro was sentenced today to 11 years in prison while a.j. Munchak got seven years for extorting kickbacks and other crimes while running lackawanna county as majority commissioners.
Senior u.s. District judge a. Richard caputo ordered mr. Cordaro jailed immediately. Mr. Cordaro hugged and patted the backs of tearful family members and friends before u.s. Marshals led him out of the courtroom.
The judge gave mr. Munchak until 2 p.m. April 3 to report so he can deal with undisclosed health problems that cropped up last wednesday and required him to spend days in the hospital.