The State Senate gave final approval to a bill sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) that would enable governments, non-profit organizations and businesses to collect restitution if they are victims of a crime. The measure now goes to the governor for its signature into law.
Stefano said Senate Bill 897 would address a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling which found that governmental entities, nonprofits and businesses were not eligible for reimbursement when they are victimized and suffer losses. The Supreme Court, despite years of sentences imposing restitution in such cases, narrowly interpreted only individuals could receive restitution overturning a restitution sentence in a public corruption crime.
Stefano noted that “Since the Supreme Court’s ruling several municipalities who had been defrauded have been denied restitution putting taxpayers on the hook twice for the stolen money.”
Stefano said he also saw the the need for the legislation due to an incident that occurred when he served as a member of a joint sewage authority. The authority’s former executive was charged with embezzlement and ordered to pay a significant restitution to the authority.
“Because the authority was a government entity, it could have lost the right to restitution under this ruling, leaving taxpayers to make up the costs,” Stefano said. “When individuals steal from non-profits, governments and businesses, they should be required to pay for that crime. This new law will enable these entities to receive restitution in instances where, for example, an act of theft, hacking, embezzlement or destruction of property has been perpetrated against them. This law will protect taxpayers, ratepayers, clients of our nonprofit agencies and customers and employees of businesses.”
Stefano also thanked the coauthor of the bill, Senator Lisa Boscola (D-18) for her work in developing the legislation.
“Senator Lisa Boscola and I worked hard, in a bipartisan manner, to ensure these crime victims have access to restitution,” Stefano said. She and I have both seen in our districts what can happen when local agencies, non-profits and municipalities are the victims of a crime. We could not allow taxpayers to have to bear the financial responsibility of the criminal.”
CONTACT: Ben Wren (717) 787-7175