Bethlehem, August 17, 2017 – State Senators Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) and Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) are introducing legislation that would enable government, business and nonprofit entities to collect restitution against criminals.
“Taxpayers, businesses and charities can be victims too,” Boscola said. “The narrow language in the state’s Crime Victims law has enabled scam artists to walk away from restitution rulings.”
Stefano added, “Ripping off government hurts taxpayers. Stealing from businesses can have consequences for workers and customers. Scamming a non-profit hurts its charitable mission. We cannot allow our laws to continue treating these entities like they cannot be victims.”
Under the state Crime Victims Act, a victim is defined as an “individual” whom has suffered physical or mental injury, death or the loss of earnings. Following corruption cases, the state Supreme Court recently ruled that governmental entities do not fit the definition of a victim, therefore such convictions that carry restitution cannot be collected.
Boscola said such a travesty is currently playing out in the Lehigh Valley where two individuals committed an $832,000 streetlight scam against Bethlehem Township; and an additional $160,000 against Coplay Borough. Despite being convicted of theft and ordered to pay restitution, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said that current state law will make it difficult to recover any funds.
“In many ways, bilking our local governments, a business or charity can be further damaging than ripping off an individual because of its ripple effect on the many people who pay taxes, work for a business or rely on a nonprofit entity for services,” Boscola said.
“There shouldn’t be loopholes in our restitution laws,” Stefano added. “It’s obvious that we need to fix our law, and do so quickly.”
# # #