Thursday, February 17, 2011


Admitted felon Robert Powell handed "cash-stuffed envelopes" to a "prominent state lawmaker" as the two walked off Powell's plane together in late 2006, according to a witness in a Luzerne County corruption trial.

The witness claimed Powell has testified to a grand jury about "paying off" the lawmaker.

The prominent state lawmaker was not identified.

There may be plenty of prominent state lawmakers who've flown in Powell's plane; it could be anyone. Really. However, we know of only one who has admitted it.

Former House Majority Leader Todd Eachus said last year that he flew with Powell on Jan. 31, 2007. He initially lied about the flight, saying he accepted it because he had to rush back to Harrisburg to cast votes, and later backtracked when confronted with the facts. He has refused to respond to a report that he has flown with Powell more than once.

At the time, Powell was trying to develop a cargo airport and Eachus supported legislation that would have allocated $495 million in taxpayer dollars for the project. Eachus abandoned support for the project after Powell admitted paying judges to sentence juveniles to a detention center Powell co-owned.

Eachus accepted $18,000 in campaign contributions from Powell, according to the opponent who defeated him in November's election.

A little over a year ago, Eachus allegedly received an invitation to testify before a state grand jury investigating legislative corruption.

Though they were originally not indicted in then-Attorney General Tom Corbett's gubernatorial campaign-launching investigation, Eachus, former Majority Leader Bill DeWeese, and former Campaign Committee Operations Chair Steve Stetler drew widespread attention after press leaks revealed that Corbett had ignored or overlooked evidence implicating them. Corbett later attempted to gloss over his embarrassment by belatedly indicting DeWeese and Stetler (DeWeese on unrelated charges), but Eachus remained untouched.

It's not clear whether Powell is supposed to have testified before the investigative arm of the Corbett for Governor campaign or some other grand jury, but an active federal investigation might explain why Eachus was not part of Corbett's December 2009 attempt at damage control.


Anonymous said...

Oversight Resembles Attorney General Tom Corbett's Prosecutions: Partisan and Political.

If Tom Corbett were to fire every state regulator who refrains, for political reasons, from enforcing laws and protecting the public, no one whose duties include policing Marcellus shalers in Pennsylvania can expect to last a week.

But the relevant state employees should relax, because it is likely Gov. Corbett's axe was swung in an abortion-specific (make that anti-abortion-specific) direction . . . for political reasons.

Anonymous said...

Legal Intelligencer / Justices still need to focus attention on corruption's aftermath
Monday, February 14, 2011

The Legal Intelligencer

Former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr.'s racketeering trial, which started last week, should provide some insight into the "kids-for-cash" scandal and show how widespread the judicial corruption was in that county.

It couldn't come at a better time. Federal prosecutors seem to be our only hope for learning answers since the state's court system, notably the state Supreme Court, apparently would like to forget the whole thing happened. Or worse, believe it was an aberration.

The Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice (ICJJ) issued its final report in May. Nothing has come of it. There are a number of damning facts regarding the state's legal system, particularly the Judicial Conduct Board's (JCB) failure to act on a detailed complaint filed against fellow disgraced former Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Conahan, who has already pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge.

The report has a number of other good suggestions to reform aspects of the state's judicial system, though there's no indication the court is going to act on any of them.

It wouldn't surprise us if many of the justices hadn't read the report, given how badly they whiffed when they denied former Luzerne County Judge Ann H. Lokuta a new disciplinary trial despite the stench surrounding her case.

"Unbelievable," "shocking," "disappointing," were some of the phrases we heard from lawyers and judges around the state in reaction to the court's decision. Justice J. Michael Eakin's majority opinion doesn't really acknowledge all the troubling facts surrounding Judge Lokuta's case, the appearance problems, or just how pervasive the corruption was in Luzerne County.

To be so dismissive of her claims, in light of everything we now know, is to ignore all the troubling facts and show a failure of the imagination to comprehend the scope of Judge Ciavarella and Judge Conahan's influence and corruption.

We don't know if Judge Lokuta is a good judge and clearly some people believe she shouldn't be on the bench. But there are more than enough troubling facts and appearance problems to warrant giving her a new trial.

Sources have told us that Judge Lokuta and former Luzerne County Controller Steven Flood had concerns about judges Conahan and Ciavarella and were sharing information around 2003 or 2004. Those same sources told us Judge Conahan and Judge Ciavarella became concerned that someone in the courthouse was assisting Mr. Flood. If that's true, they had a big motive to target Judge Lokuta.

Even some of Judge Lokuta's critics have told us they believe she was fundamentally wronged and that judges Conahan and Ciavarella manipulated the Judicial Conduct Board in order to silence her and to tie up the JCB's resources so they themselves couldn't be investigated.

Our sources have told us how the judges retaliated against anyone who stood up to them or tried to call them out. Even after the judges were indicted, sources were at times reluctant or afraid to talk to us, fearing the judges and their cronies still held sway over the courthouse. More than a year after the judges were indicted, sources told us they didn't trust the people around them.

If the court is going to drop the ball on Judge Lokuta, perhaps it can make up for it by picking up the ICJJ's report and doing something with it. Most lawyers and judges we spoke to doubt it. We're hoping the justices will care enough to push for systemic reforms in the wake of the worst judicial scandal in Pennsylvania history.

This column was written by staff of The Legal Intelligencer, the oldest law journal in the U.S. (

Anonymous said...

The Tribune-Review's failure to follow this story, like just about every story one could associate with InsolvenCity's mayor, is baffling.

The Trib is customarily willing to fabricate material to disparage Democrats -- or anyone else left of the nuttiest Tea Partier -- yet it disregards real RedState meat.

Anonymous said...

While much of that testimony echoed statements from earlier witnesses, one intriguing note emerged as Ms. Rasmussen testified that sometime in 2008, fearing that her state computer system had been hacked,

Ms. Orie asked the state attorney general's office to examine her computers. There was not immediate testimony on what may have emerged from that review.

Read more:

Anonymous said...

Really? The firing of inspectors who didn't inspect which left unlicensed individuals free to botch abortions to the point of KILLING A WOMAN was a politicaly posturedl stance on abortion? Do you seriously believe that?

Anonymous said...

Finally Through early campaign contribution fog we can see
visions of the things to be
the pains of power that are withheld from us
We now realize and We can see...

That corbett's corruption is not painless
It brings on many changes
and the public can take if it please.

The media pretends to try to find a way
To make all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but it is not too late.

The game of politics to power is hard to play
Sooner or later we all gonna lose it anyway
The losing card OAG someday will play so this is all we have to say.

The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before we are beat
and to another give up our seats
for that's the only wayward feat.

The sword of justice will pierce the veil of corbett's sins
Yet many think it doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger as the public and pundits watches with grins.

Brave men and women will request os us to answer questions that are have been kept from us
'Is it to be or not to be'
and we reply 'oh why ask me?'

Cause revelations of the abouse of power is not painless
it brings on many changes
and we can take or leave it if we please....and you can do the same thing if you choose.

Anonymous said...

PJ Levelle to be sentenced next week? The only bonusgater who both allegedly and admittedly worked most of his time on politics, and the only one who (by his own testimony) continued to work on politics at the Capitol (for new Gambling Commissioner McCall and his highly promoted aid Paul Parsells)until the day he was arrested.

Next up - the two admitted masterminds and architects of the bonus idea, Mike Manzo and Scott Brubaker.

Anonymous said...

The felon staffer came knocking upon the Eachus's door
He said, "I am not working for you anymore"
Eachus knew he had seen his face someplace before
And slowly he let him inside.

He said, "I've watched your Green Dome up on this hill
And I've wondered who's the man for whom we all were arrested
But I am leaving tomorrow and you can do what you will
Only first I am asking you why."

Down in the long narrow hall he was led
Into his old room with the tapestries red
And he never once took the arrogance from his head
He asked him to sit down.

He said, "I see you now, and you are so still very young
But I've seen more trials lost than my Lawyers have won
And I've got this intuition, says it's all for your fun
And now will you tell me why?"

Eachus & Casey, fixed him with an arrogant eye
He said, "You won't understand, and you may as well not try"
But his eyes was a child's, and he thought he would cry
But he closed himself up like a fan.

And he said, "I've swallowed a secret burning thread in prison
It cuts me inside, and often I've bled"
He laid his hand then on top of his head
And he stood tall instead bowing to the ground.

"Tell me how hungry are you? How weak you must feel
As you are living here alone, and you were the secret witness never revealed
But I won't work again on your re-election"
And he took him to the window to see.

And the sun, it was gold, though the sky, it was gray
And Eachus wanted more than he ever could say
But he knew how it frightened him, and he turned away
And would not look at his eyes again.

And he said, "I only lived as an honest man
To get all I deserve and to give all I can
And to work hard for candidates who I don't understand
Your Majority Leadership and your ways are very strange."

But Eachus’s frown, as his head was fallen, and he thought he would break
And he stood there, ashamed of the way his heart ached
Eachus took him to the doorstep and he asked him to wait
He would only be a moment inside.

Out in the distance footsteps could be heard
And the former staffer was handcuffed, still waiting for his word
And while the Eachus went on strangling in the solitude he preferred
He was swept from office and never saw it coming
But continued to inform on all!