Harrisburg, January 30, 2019 – Today, Senator Lisa Boscola (D- Northampton) joined Governor Wolf and Senator Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) to celebrate the adoption of Senate Bill 897 at a ceremonial bill signing. The legislation corrected a quirk in the restitution law by clarifying that government entities and non-profits are eligible to collect restitution.
The measure was spurred by a local news account concerning Robert Kerns, who was convicted of stealing $832,000 from the taxpayers of Bethlehem Township. The state Superior Court ruled that Kearns does not have to pay the money back because a municipality cannot qualify as a “victim” for the purposes of collecting restitution.
Calling the scenario “absurd,” Boscola called introduced this legislation to fix this loophole several times on the Senate floor. She said “those who steal from local government or non-profits should have to pay it back. It’s just commonsense.”
“Crime should never pay, but that’s what the decision allowed,” Boscola said.
After similar incidents occurred in Senator Stefano’s Senate District, Boscola and Stefano agreed to work on a bipartisan correction (Senate Bill 897) to the legal loophole. They worked closely with statewide District Attorneys’ Association and Office of Victim Advocate to draft legislation.
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