By Zack Needles
Of the Legal Staff
As previously reported here, Ciavarella had petitioned either to be granted a new trial or to have his racketeering and honest services fraud convictions overturned, which would have left him guilty of only tax fraud charges.
But in a five-page order issued Thursday, Kosick said the former judge's arguments were groundless.
In February, a federal jury in Scranton found Ciavarella guilty of 12 of 39 counts of corruption filed against him, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, honest services mail fraud, money laundering conspiracy and a host of tax fraud charges. Ciavarella was cleared of extortion, bribery and honest services wire fraud charges, however.
In a series of motions filed in March, Ciavarella argued that the prosecution's evidence failed to prove that the allegations of racketeering and money laundering conspiracy occurred within the five-year statute of limitations or that money he received from the builder of two juvenile detention facilities was illegal in any way.
Kosik, in his order, sided with he prosecutors in the case, who had argued that this issue was waived because the defense failed to bring it up before trial.
Ciavarella had also argued in his motions that Kosik had erred by not allowing him to introduce into evidence comments made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon Zubrod during plea hearings for developer Robert K. Mericle and a former co-owner of the juvenile detention facilities, Robert J. Powell.
Ciavarella had hoped to use those statements, which included Zubrod saying Mericle's payments to Ciavarella amounted to nothing more than a finder's fee, in his defense.
Kosik, however, said in his order that Zubrod's statements "were not the equivalent of testimonial statements of fact" and that, even if the court had erred by not allowing those statements as evidence, "the exclusion of a statement by an attorney in another trial, while held to be a party admission, was ruled a harmless error."
Ciavarella had also hoped to keep out of the case any reference to civil cases he heard as a judge involving Mericle or Powell. Kosik let prosecutors mention those cases and, in Thursday's order, sided with their argument that the evidence was "intrinsic" and part of the proof of the charges.
Kosik also denied Ciavarella's motion for recusal, whichhad been part of the defense's pre-trial motion as well, saying the defense provided no new reasons for recusal.