Detention center owner, youths reach minimum $4.75M settlement in 'kids for cash' lawsuit

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SCRANTON, Pennsylvania — A businessman at the center of a juvenile justice scandal in northeastern Pennsylvania has agreed to pay at least $4.75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by juveniles locked up in his detention facilities.

Court documents filed Tuesday show the class-action lawsuit against Robert Powell has been settled. The settlement, which requires judicial approval, could reach $7.5 million depending on Powell's net worth.

Powell was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in a kickback scheme that led the state Supreme Court to vacate the convictions of thousands of juveniles.

He testified he was forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to two former Luzerne County judges in return for their support of his two private juvenile facilities. Both judges are serving long prison terms.

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