April 25, 2014

Robert Mericle Sentenced to One Year in Prison

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Robert Mericle was sentenced to one year in prison by Senior District Judge Edwin M. Kosik. Judge Kosik also ordered Mericle to pay a $250,000 fine and to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on May 14, 2014.

Mericle was charged with misprison of a felony in August 2009 as part of a then-ongoing investigation of judicial corruption in Luzerne County. Mericle later entered into a plea agreement with the government, which was amended prior to today’s sentencing.

Mericle testified as a principal government witness in the trial of former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Ciavarella in February 2011.

The government, as part of the plea agreement, recommended a downward departure from the Sentencing Guidelines based on Mericle’s cooperation during the long investigation. The defense argued for a greater downward departure. The court today ruled in favor of the government in regard to the downward departure.

At today’s hearing Judge Kosik considered the extent to which the court should vary from the guidelines based on factors listed under the governing federal statute in sentencing Mericle. Major factors in this case were the nature and circumstances of the offense and Mericle’s role in the offense. The court stated that, based on those factors, it was varying upward and sentenced Mericle to the one year prison term.

The government’s seven year investigation of judicial corruption in Luzerne County was led by the trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon A. Zubrod, Michael A. Consiglio, and William S. Houser and agents of the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation offices in Scranton.

United States Attorney Peter Smith stated that the sentence was appropriate in view of the factors considered by the Court and that Judge Kosik was in the best position to make the appropriate determination having heard the evidence of the seriousness of the offense during the Ciavarella trial and having the benefit of the sentencing memoranda submitted to him by the government and the defense and Mericle’s own statement to the court.