Builder in Pa. ‘kids for cash’ case begins prison term

    A builder of for-profit youth detention centers has reported to prison for his role in a juvenile justice scandal in which thousands of young offenders were sent to his facilities by a judge who took money from him.Robert Mericle reported Monday to a minimum security prison in Schuylkill County.

    He was sentenced in April to a year in prison and ordered to pay $250,000 stemming from northeastern Pennsylvania’s so-called “kids for cash” scandal.

    Prosecutors said two judges accepted $2 million in illegal payments from Mericle.

    Former Luzerne County Judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella Jr. plotted to close the dilapidated county-run juvenile detention center in 2002 and arrange for construction of the PA Child Care facility outside Wilkes-Barre and another lockup in western Pennsylvania.

    They’re serving lengthy prison sentences.

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