A federal judge again on Wednesday denied former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella’s compassionate release request due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a May filing, Ciavarella claimed his federal prison staff, including his case manager, selected him for early release to house arrest, but the warden declined to make the recommendation to the warden. Federal Bureau of Prisons.
U.S. District Judge Christopher Conner, who previously upheld Ciavarella’s 28-year prison sentence in the so-called ‘kids for cash’ case, issued an order denying Ciavarella’s latest request for compassionate release. Ciavarella, citing the reasons the judge listed the previous January. Refusal 2021.
Although Ciavarella has ‘extraordinary and compelling reasons’ for early release – such as serious medical issues and the fact that he is an aging, non-violent first-time offender who has shown good behavior in jail — they don’t warrant a reduced sentence for “a myriad of reasons,” Conner wrote.
Namely, Ciavarella continues to downplay the seriousness of his “criminal plan,” the judge wrote.
Ciavarella, 72, and another former county judge, Michael Conahan, were accused of accepting $2.8 million in exchange for funneling hundreds of young defendants to for-profit detention centers.
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Conahan, 70, was sentenced to 17½ years in federal prison, but was released home in June 2020 and is now being monitored by the Bureau of Prisons’ local Residential Rehabilitation Management office in Miami, Florida.
In his compassionate release request, Ciavarella argued that he has hypertension, hypothyroidism, hyperlipidemia, fib A, pneumonia, bronchitis and kidney disease, which makes him susceptible to COVID. -19.
“The sentencing judge never intended to sentence Ciavarella to the death penalty…Now, however, due to the unthinkable spread of COVID-19 resulting in a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic , people who, like Ciavarella, have a number of comorbid medical conditions are dying at an alarming rate,” Ciavarella wrote.
Federal prosecutors responded that Ciavarella’s sentence was appropriate and downplayed his fears about COVID since he is vaccinated and only one in 1,300 inmates in his prison had the virus in early June.
“It is impossible to determine whether he will be safe at home or at his federal facility,” prosecutors wrote.
Prosecutors also noted that Ciavarella continues to downplay his crimes.
“He violated his oath of office by accepting bribes and kickbacks,” prosecutors wrote. “He laundered millions of dollars in criminal proceeds to hide the illicit funds from the law and the public.”