Harrisburg, October 16, 2018 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Senators Lisa Boscola (D-Northampton) and Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) that would fix 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 for passage of 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 Sen. 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.
Boscola said she was “pleased that the House passed the measure with minor amendments.”
The bill now returns to the Senate for a vote on concurrence. With only a few days remaining in session, Boscola is urging her fellow senators to take up the bill tomorrow before the senate completes its fall schedule.
# # #