Judge issues order regarding Robert Powell’s net worth calculation

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - [email protected]
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An independent expert who was ordered to calculate former attorney Robert Powell’s net worth by Feb. 6 as part of “Kids for Cash” litigation did not receive all requested financial information, according to a recent court filing.

U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo issued an order June 6 setting a 21-day deadline for the expert, Thomas Pratt, to identify for legal counsel the potentially relevant unavailable financial information he had referenced in his net worth report.

Attorneys must schedule a conference with the court after this information is received, Caputo’s order said.

Pratt had requested 31 documents and materials from Powell.

The recent court order does not provide any clues on the type of information not available.

The matter stems from a 2009 legal action filed by 1,800 parents and juveniles against Powell and others linked to a judicial corruption scandal.

Powell paid the plaintiffs $4.75 million as part of a settlement agreement, and his potential payment of up to $2.75 million more hinges on his net worth.

Caputo’s order was a partial granting of the plaintiffs’ motion seeking court interpretation of their settlement agreement with the Powell defendants, which also include the Powell Law Group PC and Powell’s company, Vision Holdings LLC.

The status of the Feb. 6 net worth calculation had been unclear because lawyers were not commenting and the court docket had no activity for more than a month after the expert’s report was due.

On March 9, the plaintiffs filed a motion asking the judge to interpret and enforce the settlement agreement. However, all documents associated with this request were sealed.

Attorney Sol H. Weiss in Philadelphia, one of the lead plaintiff lawyers, declined further comment Monday beyond acknowledgement of the 21-day order.

Powell’s attorney, Stephen S. Stallings of Pittsburgh, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Both sides hired Pratt, of Pittsburgh, to calculate the net worth because the plaintiffs had immediately rejected Powell’s January 2017 estimate that he has a negative net worth exempting him from paying more.

This isn’t the first time the plaintiffs sought court intervention. They asked the judge to set a net worth calculation deadline in September. Powell’s attorney had argued against this request, saying the heavily-negotiated settlement agreement did not contain a time limit.

Caputo concluded the Feb. 6 deadline was reasonable for Pratt to present his final report because it was one year after his formal engagement.

A Hazleton-area native, Powell served an 18-month prison sentence for failing to report a $2.8 million kickback scheme involving former county judges Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella and two juvenile detention centers Powell had co-owned, court records show. The two former judges are still serving federal prison sentences.

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By Jennifer Learn-Andes

[email protected]

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.