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Ciavarella lawyers issue statement on charges

Attorneys Al Flora and William Ruzzo on Tuesday issued this statement in response to media coverage involving their client, Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Ciavarella:

“On behalf of Judge Mark Ciavarella, we would like to clarify certain information that the media reported surrounding the federal charges filed against him.

“First, the government has not charged Judge Ciavarella with any crime associated with the loss or theft of taxpayer money or county funds. Headlines that Judge Ciavarella “bilked taxpayers of $2.6 million” is factually inaccurate and not alleged in the charges filed by the government. The government alleges that the money in this case came from private persons and not a governmental entity.

“Second, the government has not charged a quid pro quo. The government does not allege that Judge Ciavarella received money in exchange for his sending children to the PA Child Care facility and that he led the payers of the money to believe that they would receive less favorable treatment from him, absent payment of the money.

“Third, Judge Ciavarella specifically denies that he sent any child to any juvenile facility because of money that he allegedly received from any person.

“Fourth, Honest Services Fraud, as charged in this case, does not involve bribery or theft of government funds. Rather, the charge involves, as one element, an allegation that Judge Ciavarella deprived the public of its right to full disclosure of the sources of income, which he was required to disclose in annual financial statement filed with the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts.

“Finally, Judge Ciavarella, through his counsel, has been cooperating and is continuing to cooperate with the Office of U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania to bring this matter to a fair and just resolution.”

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