You’ve heard it in countless country songs, movies and maybe even your own life: “Sorry doesn’t cut it.” So why is it that people think they can get away with a simple “sorry,” no matter how heartfelt? According to a Newsday article, one Long Island Councilman found himself apologizing to keep himself out of jail, but did the judge give in?
The New York Department of Labor provides eligible state residents with unemployment benefits. (Can I emphasize on the word “eligible?”) Eligibility is defined by the department as: “Workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own, but are ready, willing and able to work.” So how is it that a former councilman of Long Beach City applied for and received unemployment benefits during the time he was employed and receiving a salary of $19,828? The fraudster commented on his case, explaining: “This is a case that was about miscalculation.” Really?
An Assistant District Attorney explained: “This is a case in which the defendant…knowingly and intentionally falsely reported on unemployment for nine months.” The case stemmed from the councilman’s collection of more than $15,000 during his employment. The fraudster’s attorney described him as “a guy who tried to do good and made an incredible misjudgment.” The councilman was convicted of one count petty larceny and 18 felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing. The judge did not let him off with a warning for a simple apology. Rather, he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, eight years (three years for petty larceny and five years for his 18 felony counts) of probation and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $15,783.75 to the state Department of Labor.
The tough sentences keep rolling in! Whether you are a public figure or a citizen, defrauding the government is just plain illegal. This is a great example of a judge sentencing a criminal for the facts presented against the defendant in the case of the fraud, regardless of apology or public position.