Zappala Dropped from Two Class Action Lawsuits

Article excerpt

A Pittsburgh businessman has been dropped from two class action lawsuits brought by the parents of hundreds of youths who say that they were wrongly detained at two juvenile facilities that he owns.

Federal court documents show that Gregory Zappala was dismissed without prejudice Thursday from the lawsuit filed by the parents and the advocacy group, the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. The legal term "without prejudice" means that he can be named in a new suit on the same claim.

Zappala and his partner, Robert J. Powell of Hazleton, co-owned youth detention facilities in Butler and Luzerne counties where the youths were sent by former Luzerne County judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella.

The judges are awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to charges of taking $2.6 million in kickbacks to send the youths to PA Child Care in Luzerne County and a sister company, Western PA Child Care, possibly tainting the convictions of thousands of juvenile offenders.

Powell, who eventually turned his interest in the facilities to Zappala, has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from his role in hiding the payoffs to the judges. …