Arguing that evidence submitted by the federal government was both time-barred and insufficient, former Luzerne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. has petitioned a federal court judge to overturn his racketeering and honest services fraud convictions.
Ciavarella wrote that he should be acquitted of those major charges, which would leave him guilty of only tax fraud charges, or provided a new trial.
The former judge used a 20-page brief to support a series of motions that were filed last month, alternately challenging U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Edwin M. Kosik's discretion in overseeing the case and the strength of federal prosecutors' evidence against him.
The former judge was accused by federal prosecutors in January 2009 of concocting a "kids-for-cash" scheme with Conahan and taking more than $2.8 million from Mericle and Robert J. Powell, the builder and former co-owner of Pa. Child Care, a for-profit juvenile detention facility.
A jury, however, only found Ciavarella took $997,000 from Mericle in his capacity as a judge, conspired to launder that money and lied about it on his tax returns.
Conahan pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge in an open-ended agreement with federal prosecutors.
Mericle and Powell also admitted wrongdoing for their roles in the case.
Now, Ciavarella is hinging his appeal, in part, on Kosik's decision to bar him from mentioning Zubrod's contention that Mericle's payment was "not a kickback or a bribe in any sense."
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Ciavarella Hangs Acquittal Arguments on Evidentiary Issues