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Two former county judges discussed receiving kickbacks and plotted perjury with the owner of a private juvenile detention facility, who recorded the conversations, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors on Tuesday filed a brief including transcripts of conversations they say were between attorney Robert Powell and former Luzerne County judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella.
The judges have been accused of taking $2.8 million in kickbacks from Powell and the builder of the detention center to send youth offenders to certain for-profit detention facilities. The scandal prompted the state Supreme Court to vacate thousands of juvenile convictions.
Prosecutors say the transcripts show the judges discussing the payments and scheming to commit perjury.
"I'd never do anything to hurt you, but I never got the cash from anybody. That's the story, and you better stick to it," Conahan told Powell, who had become a federal informant and was recording the conversation, according to a transcript included in the brief.
"I'll stick to it," replied Powell, according to the transcript from the meeting, one of six conversations recorded between July and September 2008.
Greenleaf calls for inquiry into Phila. courts
Saying the Philadelphia criminal justice system is "in disarray," State Sen. Stewart J. Greenleaf and eight fellow senators on Wednesday proposed to create a Senate advisory panel to investigate the city courts and recommend reforms in laws and court rules.
Greenleaf said he was acting in response to an Inquirer series on the city courts that he said "raised serious concerns."
As the newspaper reported in a series of articles in December, the Philadelphia courts are plagued by low conviction rates, rampant witness intimidation, a massive fugitive problem, and the dismissal of thousands of cases each year without a ruling on the merits.
"The biggest problem was the ineffectiveness of the criminal justice system," said Greenleaf, a veteran Republican who represents parts of Montgomery and Bucks Counties.
Read more: Philadelphia Inquirer