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Not the right message
May 21, 2013 - Jim Smith
Once again a public official has been convicted of stealing public money and has been given a minor slap on the wrist as punishment.
The most recent embezzlement of public funds was by Barbara Mincks, the former assistant treasurer of the Marietta City Schools, who was convicted of stealing more than $145,000 over a five year period in a planned, elaborate scheme that had her rewriting checks to herself after district-issued checks went several months without being cashed.
And why did she steal from the taxpayers? So she could give money to her family, pay for a wedding and pay for college tuition. Sorry, those are merely excuses, not valid reasons, because there is no acceptable reason to steal.
Many people have family issues that need attention, many people have weddings that need paid for and many have rising college tuition fees that need paid, none of which makes it OK to steal.
And what does the former treasurer get for her theft in office conviction? Three years of community control, 120 days in jail and, of course, she's supposed to pay back the stolen money from her school retirement fund and other income within three years.
This is not the first time an area public official has stolen money and merely been embarrassed and lightly sentenced. Unfortunately theft of public funds happens far too often, and the punishment for the crime also is far too light far too often.
It's the wrong message to send.
The right message is to treat the offense for what it is ... a major break in trust between the public and their public officials ... and a crime that affect every taxpayer.
The sentence should be severe enough to make every public official think twice, three times and then think again before contemplating stealing from the public coffers.
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