Recently the Illinois Department of Human Services discovered that one of its Randolph County caseworkers, Mary Hurst, had stolen $114,819 over a three year period from Illinois’ food stamp program. She was prosecuted by the Illinois Attorney General’s office. A visiting judge was called in to preside at her Sept. 10 sentencing hearing in Randolph County’s Circuit Court.
During her sentencing proceeding, Hurst handed over a check for the full amount of the funds she had been charged with stealing — $114,819. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, Hurst was then immediately sentenced to 30 months probation. Hurst’s sentence included no prison time, no jail time and not even any weekend county jail time.
No one who steals $114,819 from the food stamp program should escape imprisonment. As a federal base level 6 theft offense (increased by 8 levels for thefts over $70,000 and under $120,000), the presumptive federal guideline sentence in a federal prosecution would have been a 15-21 month term of imprisonment.
Because Hurst’s state probationary sentence is a true and graphic miscarriage of justice, the USDA Inspector General’s office should insist upon an additional federal prosecution against Hurst to assure that justice does not remain subverted in this matter.
Chris Tabing, Coulterville