|Name||Michael T. Conahan|
Hazleton, Pennsylvania , United States
|| April 21, 1952
Nov 19, 2012 12:39am
Convicted - Imprisoned -
|Info||Conahan was born in Hazleton on April 21, 1952, and remained in the city until his graduation from Hazleton High School in 1970. Four years later, he received his bachelor’s degree from Villanova University in Radnor Township, Delaware County. |
Back in Hazleton after law school, Conahan balanced magisterial duties and a fledgling career in private practice.
Conahan’s judicial career began in 1977, the same year he received his law degree from the Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia. Gov. Milton Shapp appointed Conahan to fill a vacant magisterial district judge position in Hazleton, where he had been born and reared and where his father, Joseph B. Conahan Sr., had been mayor. Conahan received similar widespread support when he ran for election to a full term in 1979 and again when he ran for re-election in 1985 and 1991.
In 1979, he became a partner in the Hazleton firm of Kennedy, Carlyon and Conahan. In 1988, he joined the firm of Bigelow, Carlyon, Lucadamo, Siadri and McNeilis. In 1992, he established his own practice.
By the end of the year, Conahan was considering a run at the Court of Common Pleas — first as a candidate for the gubernatorial appointment to replace retiring Judge Bernard C. Brominski, then as a challenger in the 1993 election.
The governor at the time, Robert P. Casey, named Pittston attorney Joseph Musto, the brother of state Sen. Raphael Musto, D-Pittston Township. The appointment sparked a heated rivalry between Musto and Conahan and led to a brutal primary campaign, which included mutual charges of nepotism and campaign finance violations.
Conahan accused Democratic Party leaders of attempting to “strong arm” him out of the race, suggested he acquiesce to Musto and wait until 1995 to run for the seat that was being vacated by the retiring Judge Gifford S. Cappellini — a position that eventually went to Ciavarella.
“Following what many political observers described as one of the most bitter and hard fought campaigns in Luzerne County history,” as The Citizens’ Voice described the race, Conahan won the Democratic and Republican nominations.
Conahan received 52,334 votes in a landslide general election victory and was sworn in as a Common Pleas judge in January 1994. In 2002, he became the first Hazleton resident elected president judge, a position he held until Ciavarella’s ascent in 2007.
Conahan relinquished his position on the Court of Common Pleas in January 2008, four years into his second 10-year-term. He disclosed the decision seven months earlier, saying he had made a personal choice to move on after 30 years of combined service, first as a district magisterial judge and, since 1994, as a member of the Court of Common Pleas. Conahan officially retired on Jan. 14, 2008. He returned the next day as a senior judge, appointed by the state to handle cases in Luzerne County on a part-time basis — no more than 13 days per month.
In January 2009, Mark A. Ciavarella, 58, and former president judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, were charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania with an alleged scheme to defraud the federal government by concealing $2.6 million earned illegally through placement of juveniles in juvenile detention facilities. Ciavarella resigned his post as President Judge on January 26, 2009. On January 28, 2009, the PA Supreme Court suspended Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of all judicial duties.