Harrisburg, May 22, 2018 – The state Senate today unanimously 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.
“I am pleased by the overwhelming bipartisan support for this bill,” Boscola said. “This absurd loophole is crying out for a legislative solution.”
Boscola credited the news media for its focus on how the court’s ruling enabled criminals to get away with stealing from taxpayers or charities.
She said she was outraged when she read about Robert Kerns in her local paper. Kerns was convicted of stealing $832,000 from the taxpayers of Bethlehem Township. However, the state Superior court ruled that he did not have to pay the money back because a municipality does not legally qualify as a “victim” for the purposes of collecting restitution.
“Crime should never pay,” Boscola said. “But that’s exactly what the court decision allowed.”
She said those who pay taxes to governments and donate to charities are also “people” who deserve protection under the law.
After similar incidents occurred in Sen. Stefano’s senate district, Boscola and Stefano agreed to work on a bipartisan correction to the legal loophole. They worked closely with statewide District Attorneys’ Association and Office of Victim Advocate to draft legislation.
“We need to ensure that those who steal from taxpayers or charities are obligated to pay it back,” Boscola said. “It’s just common sense.”
Following today’s vote, the bill (Senate Bill 897) now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
# # #