‘Kids for cash’ lawsuit moved out of federal court in Pittsburgh |

‘Kids for cash’ lawsuit moved out of federal court in Pittsburgh

A Pittsburgh federal judge Thursday transferred a lawsuit related to the “kids for cash” scandal to the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Scranton.

Gregory Zappala, a Pittsburgh investment banker, claims in the lawsuit that Robert Powell, a Luzerne County lawyer, stole millions from him in their joint venture to build and operate two juvenile detention facilities.

Powell paid two Luzerne County judges bribes for sending juveniles to the facilities. He and the two judges were convicted of the kickback scheme.

Zappala, the brother of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., was not charged in the criminal case. He claims in the lawsuit that Powell and others stole money from him to pay the kickbacks.

Hundreds of juveniles and their parents are suing Powell and others in federal courts in the middle part of the state. U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo has scheduled a trial on their consolidated claims to start Jan. 12 in Scranton.

U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti said both sides in the Pittsburgh lawsuit are participants in the lawsuit before Caputo and the issues in both lawsuits cover much of the same ground so it makes sense for both cases to be handled in the same court.

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