Sandy Fonzo, Furious at "Cash For Kids" Former Judge Mark Ciavarella, Will Be at His Sentencing On August 11, 2011
Fonzo, who became the face of community outrage at Ciavarella’s actions when she chided the disgraced judge following his conviction on corruption charges Feb. 18, has ordered 100 T-shirts with pictures of her son, Edward Kenzakoski III, on the front and slogans like “Cash for Kids is an American travesty” and “How much is your child worth” on the reverse. She is giving them away to the parents of other children sentenced by Ciavarella and anyone willing to wear one to the judge’s sentencing Thursday on racketeering, money laundering and other corruption charges.
Posted: August 7
Updated: Today at 2:10 AM
Mom thinks shirt suits ex-judge’s case to a T
Sandy Fonzo will distribute items with son’s photo and a message to wear to former judge’s sentencing.
By MATT HUGHES firstname.lastname@example.org
When Mark Ciavarella learns his fate in federal court next week, Sandy Fonzo wants her son’s face to be on the former Luzerne County judge’s mind.
Fonzo, who became the face of community outrage at Ciavarella’s actions when she chided the disgraced judge following his conviction on corruption charges Feb. 18, has ordered 100 T-shirts with pictures of her son, Edward Kenzakoski III, on the front and slogans like “Cash for Kids is an American travesty” and “How much is your child worth” on the reverse.
She is giving them away to the parents of other children sentenced by Ciavarella and anyone willing to wear one to the judge’s sentencing Thursday on racketeering, money laundering and other corruption charges.
Fonzo will be distributing the shirts at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the pavilion near the pond in Kirby Park.
Though her fiery confrontation with Ciavarella caught the attention of national media, Fonzo said she doesn’t plan to repeat her actions at the judge’s sentencing Thursday.
“I just hope that courthouse is wrapped around in just silence, no violence,” Fonzo said. “To say these were all the lives that were destroyed.”
Fonzo maintains that her son was given an unduly harsh prison sentence for a minor offense by Ciavarella, and that his brush with the judge set his life on a downward spiral ending in his suicide last year.
Fonzo said she and members of a support group she has organized for parents of children sentenced by Ciavarella decided to make the T-shirts after learning Judge Edwin Kosik would not allow them to read victim’s impact letters at Ciavarella’s sentencing. They had previously planned to hold a protest and vigil, but they cancelled those plans and decided to wait for the sentencing after learning Ciavarella’s appeal had been thrown out, Fonzo said.
She said she also hopes to draw attention to the continuing issue of for-profit juvenile incarceration; something Fonzo hopes will end.
“What Ciavarella proved was that when there’s profit to be made in keeping these facilities filled, that’s your bottom line.”
Fonzo is hoping Ciavarella will be handed a stiff sentence, though she said any sentence will fall short of what the ex-judge put her and other parents through.
“The thing he would always tell these 12 to 17 year olds was you need to be held accountable for your actions,” she said. “I want him to be held accountable for his actions.”
“He has been given enough time to get his affairs in order,” Fonzo continued. “It has been six months since he was convicted… My hope is to see him cuffed and taken to prison that day.”
Objections by Powell to lawsuit go forward
Judge denies request by insurance firm that seeks $2M from Powell.
By Sheena Delaziosdelazio@timesleader.com, Staff Writer
WILKES-BARRE – A Luzerne County judge ruled Monday that a local attorney’s objections to a lawsuit filed in which an insurance company says it should be reimbursed $2 million in an uninsured motorist claim will not be stopped.
Judge Lewis Wetzel said in a one-page order that the insurance company’s request to stop the preliminary objections filed by attorney Jane Sebelin was denied – after Erie Insurance said it needs more time to get documents and testimony from Sebelin.
Sebelin, a Lehighton attorney, is named as a defendant in the suit, as well as Robert Powell and his law firm, Powell Law Group.
Erie Insurance claims in the original lawsuit filed earlier this year it should be reimbursed the $2 million stemming from an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim from 2006.
Sebelin claims in her objections filed in June that she should be dismissed from the lawsuit, while Erie Insurance claims it should be reimbursed because Powell and his law firm engaged in “common law fraud” and “unjust enrichment” by collecting the money in an arbitration award in which the arbiter was appointed by former county Judge MarkCiavarella.
Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday, according to court documents.
Ciavarella and Powell had a connection due to the ongoing county corruption probe, the insurance company says, leading to the fraud and unjust enrichment.
Ciavarella was found guilty in February of accepting kickbacks from the builder of two juvenile detention centers the county utilized, and is expected to be sentenced on related charges next week.
Powell, a former center co-owner, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges connected to the ongoing public corruption probe and is awaiting sentencing.
The $2 million came in an arbitration award given to Richard Christino and his attorneys, the Powell Law Group, for injuries Christino suffered in a 2004 car crash.
The lawsuit cites articles that appeared in the Philadelphia-based Legal Intelligencer, a law journal, outlining the corruption probe and its investigation, and that investigators are “actively examining uninsured/underinsured motorist arbitration cases” in Luzerne County.
“The (defendants) have been unjustly enriched in connection with the Christino arbitration,” the suit claims.
Mike Blazick, an attorney for the insurance company, said Monday he cannot comment on ongoing litigation.
Jill Moran, an attorney for the Powell Law Group, could not be reached for comment.