There’s an old saying that you can’t get blood from a turnip, and too often those stealing public funds have no funds with which to repay their debt to society.
Oliver W. Hamilton owes $40,000 in restitution, the amount federal prosecutors could prove he stole out of the $230,000 in personal expenses he charged to an American Express card issued to East St. Louis Township. The feds want to seize the $23,252 the former township supervisor contributed to his government pension.
Good to see some up-front aggression on the restitution. Hamilton has yet to report to prison to start his five-year sentence.
Compare that to the experience of Candace Wanzo. She stole $233,500 from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and was given 15 months of probation, likely so she could get a job and start repaying the theft of public funds. Twenty-five years later, we learn she’s done little to settle her debt — paying back just 38 percent of what she owes.
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Two bankruptcies were in the mix, and the only reason she didn’t completely escape the debt during her second bankruptcy was that SIUE’s attorney objected.
She currently makes $87,336 at her state job overseeing vanity plates for the Illinois Secretary of State. She’s on paid leave while she’s being investigated for some new transgression.
State theft, state debt, state job, state paycheck. Twenty-five years.
Instead of imprisonment for being a deadbeat after being a thief, there have been rewards of a “Get Out of Jail Free” card, two “Get out of Debt Free” cards, an interest-free government loan of $233,500 with no time limit and a high-paying state job.
Where can the rest of us get that deal?