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Prosecutors claim ‘kids for cash’ plea deal broken

January 30, 2014 News Extra

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SCRANTON — Federal prosecutors are seeking a hearing to determine whether a developer at the center of one of the biggest judicial scandals in U.S. history breached his plea agreement and committed new crimes while awaiting sentencing.

The U.S. attorney’s office says in court papers that it believes Robert K. Mericle has failed to live up to his obligations under a plea deal. Prosecutors did not elaborate. U.S. Attorney Peter Smith declined to comment Thursday.

Federal prosecutors accused two Luzerne County judges of taking more than $2 million in kickbacks from Mericle, the builder of for-profit youth detention centers.

Mericle pleaded guilty to failing to report a felony and awaits sentencing. Both judges are serving lengthy prison sentences for their roles in the “kids for cash” scandal.

An attorney for Mericle could not immediately be reached for comment.

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