FBI investigates family court building deal involving advisor to PA Supreme Court Justice Castille
Court advisor says Chief Justice Castille knew he also was a project developer
Artist rendering of proposed Philadelphia family court building (top) and Chief Justice Ronald Castille
Posted June 7, 2010 -- The FBI has opened a preliminary investigation into a failed family court building deal in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
More than $12 million has been spent on the court project, in a no-bid fashion. The payments had been approved by Pennsylvania state Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille.
Jeffrey B. Rotwitt, a real estate attorney and developer, is a golf buddy of Castille’s, and had been a paid advisor to Chief Justice Castille on the project.
The Inquirer on May 21 reported that Rotwitt had been splitting payments he received from the courts with another project developer, Donald Pulver.
Chief Juistice Castille cancelled the project after he learned that his advisor, Rotwitt, was also a co-developer of the project.
Chief Justice Castille claims he knew nothing of Rotwitt’s conflict of interest, while Rotwitt insists that Castille knew everything.
Rotwitt provided minutes of a 2008 meeting in which Rotwitt was listed as a representative of his development company, and not a lawyer representing the courts. Castille attended the meeting.
The Inquirer reports that Rotwitt has been fired by his law firm, Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel.
"Rotwitt insists that (Chief Justice) Castille, along with his partners in Obermayer, knew all about his arrangement with Pulver. Rotwitt said that he disclosed it two years ago, in a development proposal he sent to the courts. The document was never signed, and Castille said that it slipped by courts officials," the Inquirer reports.
In the Luzerne County, PA, Kids for Cash scandal, in which bribes were given to two Pennsylvania judges in return to sending some 6,500 minors to private detention facilities, Chief Justice Castille’s court similarly said they had lost track of a complaint letter sent to the court about the matter in 2005. The co-owner of that facility was the son of former Pennsylvania state Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Zappala.
Castille's minions on the state Supreme Court have also said they knew nothing of an influence peddling, case fixing, prostitution and pedophile ring concealed by York County President Judge Richard Renn.