SCRANTON, Pa (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania man who owned for-profit juvenile detention centers was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Friday for paying judges to send youths to his facilities in a so-called “kids for cash” scheme.
Robert Powell, 53, a former trial lawyer and owner of a pair of for-profit juvenile detention centers, also must pay $60,000 for his involvement in the scheme.
He was found guilty in 2009 of paying $770,000 in kickbacks to then-judges Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan, who in return sent youths to his detention centers.
Powell testified in the summer trial of former judge Ciavarella, 61, and wore a wire five times to help authorities.
The judge was convicted in February on 12 corruption charges and sentenced in August to 28 years in prison for accepting payment from Robert Mericle, the developer of Powell’s juvenile detention centers. The ruling resulted in the tossing of more than 6,000 juvenile convictions.
Prosecutors said Powell’s help was crucial in their case against the judge.
Prior to Friday’s sentencing, Powell submitted a letter to the court apologizing.
“I would not wish this on any human being. I have been punished in ways no one could imagine or conceive. I have been financially and professionally ruined. I will never be free from the regret, sorry and guilt I carry with me every day for what I have done ...,” Powell said.
Judge Edwin Kosik recommended Powell serve his sentence in a federal prison in Florida near where his family has relocated.
Editing by Greg McCune